The Goonies Taught Me….

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We all have that childhood (er, lifetime) movie that is our ultimate favorite. The one that we loved as a kid and always pull back out to watch on during those mid winter flu days (like today). The Goonies is mine. Not only is it fun and silly and heartwarming, but it taught me some pretty valuable life lessons at a pretty young age, and well, even now, I seem to learn something new every time I rewatch it.  Here’s some of my favorite lessons…
1. Everyone loves the underdog,…because we can all identify with the underdog. There is something about most of us that can identify with not really fitting in, with feeling like sometimes the world is against us, and yet always hoping for something better.  Most of us feel like a Goonie many days.

2. There is part of each of us that seeks adventure even though “nothing exciting ever happens in this town.”  Even though, especially as adults, we have settled into our routine and our expectation of the norm in our lives, there is still a little part in us that perks up whenever we think adventure might be brewing.  Some of us merely observe adventure around us, some of us dismiss it as childish, and some of us chase it.

3.  We have to face our fears, and even break the rules a bit, to get what we want.  We just do.  We aren’t ever gonna find secret pirate treasure if we stay dry in the house on those dreary rainy asthmatic days.  There are often consequences for hunting for treasure, but it beats being stuck in the house that’s just gonna get torn down tomorrow anyway.

4. We all have something to offer.  We all have different gifts and whether we are a natural born leader, a quirky inventor, speak Spanish,  play piano, or  randomly give pep talks reminding everyone of their humanity, we have a vital role to play in your group of players.  Your gifts will be needed and you never know when.  Even the biggest screw up might just save the day.

5. But you can’t play every single role so sometimes you need to ask for help.  Your vision might be yours alone, others may have different goals ultimately, but sometimes we have to ask for and accept help along the way.  Whether your goal is find a secret stash of pirate treasure, or to just get out of the house, or to tag along because you always back your friends, or to find love, or to protect your kid brother, sometimes the journey takes us to the same place for awhile.  Chester Copperpot wishes he would have known that.

6. Every life lesson needs a killer sound track.  Do you ever have certain songs that pop in your head when you are trying to conquer something in your life.  Or do you ever suddenly burst out into random sound effects when you are experiencing a certain emotion?  Ok, so maybe I’m the only one, but I dare you to try it.  It will be EPIC “Dun-dun-dun!!!!”

7 .  Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.  When you have unknown risk ahead of you, and bad guys chasing you, sometimes you just gotta give up calculating the odds, and go forward.  Take the plunge, which might get you even further into danger, or  might take you down a set of really cool waterslide cliffs, and more danger.  Either way, the “unknown ahead” usually has far more options than the “known behind you.”  Just jump.

8. When you find the treasure, don’t be greedy.   Only take what you need to survive or to help others survive.  Getting greedy just weighs you down on your journey home.  Plus, ya know, booty traps.  I mean, booby traps.  That’s what I said.  Booby traps.

9.  When it comes down to it, sometimes the adventure itself is enough even if you can’t bring the treasure back with you or convince anyone else that the treasure really ever existed. Helping others, beating the bad guys, fighting to LIVE,  the chase itself, even if no one ever even believes you, is where the real treasure is.  Although it always helps if you stash a few jewels away in your marble bag.   (9a. Always carry a marble bag).

10.  Never give up.  Whatever your goal really is, whatever it is you seek, never stop chasing it.  Goonies never say die.

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The Great Experiment: A Year of NOT Dieting

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So, for 2014 I decided to do an experiment. I decided my New Year’s Resolution would be to try to go the entire year NOT dieting.

THE PREMISE: Yeah, I know, it seems like I got it mixed up, but no, I’m sick of the same old “New Year, New Me” crap that focuses on my deficits in a determination to better myself that always peters out sometimes usually around late February resulting in further feelings of defeat and self loathing.  So, I decided to mindfully, purposely NOT diet.  To not restrict and discipline myself hoping the results would eventually be a better future version of me.  Instead, I opted to instead focus on getting to know me…like the NOW version of me, a little better.  And with that knowing, accepting myself for who I am and how I am NOW; (maybe even taking it one step past acceptance to actual celebration).   The “easiest” place to start I thought would be my body.  My body is not the whole of me, of course, there is much more to me, but that is the tangible part of me most easy to focus on first.  And frankly, that’s always the part of me I have most loathed, as every proper American girl does.

THE EXPERIMENT:  So, here was the plan.  I would go the entire year of 2014 not dieting.    Now I’ve never gone a whole year without doing some sort of weight loss plan since 1985.   For my purposes, I’m not talking just “fad diets”…I quit those in the early 90s because I was smart for a teenager and caught on that they are stupid.   And yes, I understand that difference between a “diet” and a “healthy lifestyle change” (eye roll).  Those are included.  I was going to go an entire year without monitoring my eating and exercise with the purpose of trying to lose weight.   I would still be as active as possible because being active as always been vital to my mental and spiritual health, but I would be ignoring the “calories burned” component of it.   Along with the commitment to not dieting, I basically hid my scales and tried to forget about the number on them.  I basically got weighed at the doctor’s office and when I had to weigh my luggage before big trips.

THE EXPERIENCE:  So, believe it or not, this resolution was one of the toughest I’ve ever done.  Leaving behind the behaviors and the thinking of dieting is really a challenge in our culture.  Whenever I would have a bad day and think about how ugly and fat and repulsive I was, I immediately defaulted to starting to plan my diet that would, of course start the next Monday, and start to plan HOW to make myself more desirable and worthy.  Sigh.  Which only proved how badly I really needed to learn to NOT diet.  Those times I had to remind myself to look at myself in the mirror and find something beautiful NOW (not if I lose 10 lbs and have better hair, etc).   Initially, this was me doing a lot of IGNORING the things I hate about myself like my big ass or pudgy…parts everywhere and REFOCUSING on the things I like about myself like my eyes or the fact that I tan well.   But as the year progressed, I realized those things I didn’t like so much were still me and I needed to stop ignoring them and ACCEPT them as part of me.   I did a lot less smacking my flabby belly and saying “ugh, I”m so fat” and a lot more squeezing my wobbly bits and kinda giggling at them.  Because, face it, there is something a little adorable and giggle-worthy about wobbly bits.  And before I knew it, I kinda started EMBRACING things I used to hate about me.  Noticing that I was getting grey hairs remind me how much life I’ve lived, facing facts that even if I was a “healthy weight” I would still have an ass that is larger than life (and parts of the continental US) because that is just the way I am structurally made. And that’s all just fine.  I still will have those days when I just effing hate my body, but for the most part, I’ve become amazed at how strong and resilient it is.  It’s my only certain lifelong companion.

OBSERVATIONS:  This experiment was more for me to reframe how I look at myself, but I had a bunch of other observations about how I view and experience food, how I listen to my body and it’s needs and desires, thoughts about how guilt is such a wasteful emotion, and just things I didn’t know about myself or notice about our culture before doing this.   And since I’m sure you wanna hear them, I’ll just have to write another time about those.

“RESULTS:”  Honestly, I expected to gain weight from NOT dieting.  Heh.  Nope, instead I fluctuated the same 10lbs I always fluctuate every year (yes, those same 10lbs that I keep losing and gaining back when relentlessly dieting).  Some of my body shape changed a little at different times, depending on exercise and hormones, but I pretty much stayed the same.  My numbers in my bloodwork that was done at the end of 2014 showed that I am still pretty darn healthy just like the numbers said last year.  I didn’t have to buy a new wardrobe, although I got much of a new one anyway, just for funsies.  And in buying the new wardrobe, I started dressing to actually fit and flaunt my body instead of hide it in shame, which oddly enough led to numerous “compliments” on how much weight I had lost.   Heh.  So, frankly probably not a lot of change if we took a before and after pic, but I see a ton of change when I look in the mirror.  I still have those days when my eyes instantly look at things that I hate about myself, but honestly, they are few and far between.  More days than not, I look in the mirror and smile back at someone I like quite a bit.  Someone who is strong and beautiful just the way I am now.   And someone who knows how to truly savor a cupcake in all it’s glory whenever I want.

CONCLUSION: I am not suggesting that everyone go down the same path.  My experiences were very much my own.  Results may vary.  But I would suggest that you too could benefit from learning to know you, accept you, and embrace who you are NOW.

DREAM BIG. start small.

I can’t count the numbers of times others, upon learning that I am travelling alone or camping alone or going to the movies alone, incredulously say “I would love to do that, but I just can’t!” And “just can’t” has a different meaning for everyone but usually it is some variation of being scared or anxious or overwhelmed or intimidated or….you get the picture. Here’s the thing: if you have actually said some variation of wanting to do that someday but being too scared to do it then you are actually worlds ahead of those who have never even considered doing anything as “crazy as this.” If you are one of those who has never ever in your life considered challenging yourself in this way and are totally happy the way your current level of adventure is in your life, then so be it and awesome for you (and why are you reading this blog?) BUT if you are so blessed/cursed with this desire to go out and explore the world, then you are already at the “but HOW do I actually do it” phase. This phase is where I am a Viking. So I got your back. Here’s the dealio. Ya gotta DREAM BIG! But start small.
First, spend some time daydreaming about those huge things you wanna do and where you wanna do them. This is not the time to be practical or reasonable, this is the let your inner child run wild. For instance, I want to sip wine (and eat pasta) in a café in Italy after a day of gazing at art and architecture. I wanna gulp beer in a Bavarian tavern after touring the Neuschwanstein Castle. I want to blissfully wander around Quebec City some long winter weekend. I want to sweat in a bazaar in Istanbul. I wanna savor Scotch after a day of angling in Scotland. I want to sip pina coladas on tropical beaches (at least once a year). And, above all, Iceland. All of it. Etc. And so on, and more. These are my dreams. (And someday, many of them will be my stories). Take some time to dream big. Write those big dreams down. Tell them to someone. Speak your fantasy into a wish. Turning those wishes into goals comes later.
So, now you are dreaming big….. but, did you get overwhelmed at all by thinking about actually doing those? Did you catch yourself saying “aw, but I can’t actually DO these things.” This is where the starting small comes in. When it comes to action, small steps are the key to later taking big leaps. The truth is I already have a lot of my big dreams done, many of them were easier to do with other people….I’ve wandered art museums and sipped wine in Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, I’ve toured London several times, I spent a month in Hong Kong, a summer in Morocco, and sipped many a pina colada on many a tropical beach. But I can’t do all of those remaining wishes of mine right now…not only do I not have the time and money yet, but I also don’t have the research done yet. And some of those are really intimidating if I don’t know what I’m doing yet. It doesn’t matter how much I travel, I am still very intimidated about travelling to unknown places (especially where I don’t know the language) alone. I’ve done it and I will continue to do, but it is still scary. And the longer times in between trips, the more anxious I get before the next big one. So I often have to start small again.
Starting small means starting where YOU are NOW. And it’s different for everyone so it isn’t gonna be starting at the same place someone else starts (so stop comparing). What are you currently comfortable with and is there a way you can push just a teeny tiny bit past that? Are you okay with flying somewhere alone for business, but get overwhelmed with going on a vacation by yourself? Are you ok with driving a few hours away but not quite ready for a big road trip by yourself? Are you okay with running into Starbucks and waiting in line for your Pumpkin Spice Latte alone but not ready to go to a nice dinner by your lonesome? Figure out small step things you can do. For instance, on your next business trip, maybe stay 2 days longer and do some sightseeing alone. Or perhaps choose a place you are okay driving, but book a night in a hotel and go out for dinner while there to make it more of a roadtrip. Next time you are in the Starbucks line, get your coffee “for here” and get used to sitting alone quietly reading a book while caffeinating. This is your chance to push yourself just a little more and have some fun with it. Once you start small where you are NOW, you will have found yourself just a little further along. And then, you start small from where you are then. Before you know it, small steps turn into quite the epic journey.
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This is me exploring our nation’s capitol by night when my work sent me there for a conference by day. Starting small. But I’d been dreaming big about visiting DC for decades.

All I Want For Christmas

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Here’s the deal. I’ve been trying to figure out why I can’t get into the holiday spirit this year. I’ve identified several things such as my house being just so cluttered and such a mess that I feel like I can’t relax in it, my schedule is so busy that I feel like I can’t breathe, and my budget is so tight that I feel like I can’t go hog wild buying anything and everything for everyone I know. Also, there’s no snow. What’s up with that? We had like three feet last year at this time (and then whined about it the entire winter).  So I seem to have settled into a rather comfortable “bah humbug” existence this year.
But I’m realizing one of the major reasons why I’m having a hard time getting into the spirit this year is that I’m tired of the tradition of giving gifts. I know, that’s crazy…. how can you not love giving and getting gifts?  But I’m so over it.  Everyone who I traditionally give a gift to, frankly, has everything they need. And most of them have everything they want too. At least the things I can afford to give them anyway. And for me, well, if I don’t get most of the things on my list, I’m just going to go buy them on after Christmas clearance sales anyway.  My parents have just sold their house and are now living in an RV. I guarantee they don’t have room for more stuff. My little sister just got a tiny studio apartment, she couldn’t fit a new pair of socks in that place.  And as much as I would love to go crazy buying all kinds of cute and fun things for my other sister’s kids (the most adorable ones in the world), I’m betting she would be a little annoyed if I bought them more and more toys. Because you know I’d buy the loud and obnoxious ones. When it comes right down to it, the tradition of gift giving has made me feel like I have absolutely nothing of value to give. 
So do you know what I really want for Christmas this year?  I want to savor the experiences of the holidays not so much the “things.”  I want to spend time with those people I love: feasting, laughing, talking over coffee, and just being together. And dip crackers in a cheese ball.  I really love cheese balls. I love going to the holiday pops at the symphony, walking around and looking at the Christmas lights in the snow, listening to the old carols, singing along with “Sleigh Ride” like a giddy little girl (every time…. it never gets old), and having fancy dinners by candlelight.  And I also want some quiet times of solitude as well, time to savor just a little bit of nostalgia, time to regenerate and try to find my footing for the new year, and just some extra time to sleep.  And eat more cheeseball.  That’s all I want for Christmas this year. And some snow.
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My Socks Don’t Match and I Don’t Know Where I Put Friday

“I can’t wait!”

“It’s gonna be epic.”

“Someday I’m gonna do that!”

“Are we there yet?”

“Is it Friday yet?”

I say these things a lot.   I tend to be always looking forward, dreaming about what is yet to come, plotting what is next in life, scheming about the future, always chasing the next adventure, living for the weekend.  I like to say that this is because I’m very goal oriented, always trying to better myself, perpetually optimistic about the future.   And these are all true.  But this also means I don’t know how to be in the NOW.  I’m living my life ahead of myself so very often that NOW is often just something I have to survive to get to THEN.  I grumble through my week to get to Friday.  I am already daydreaming about my next trip when I’m on this one.  I’m always saying “someday, I am going to do (whatever it is I am going to do)” while I am actually doing something that I once said that someday I was going to do.  I merely tolerate the here and now.

Frankly, sometimes the now is just a disappointment.  The problem with being an optimist is that you build things up in your head.  Sometimes while chasing my epic adventure, I can’t even remember where I was going or what was going to be so great about it.   When you get to where the grass is always greener, you find that it needs to be mowed every weekend.  Friday seems like the gateway to an epic weekend and then I hit Saturday and realize I have to spend it doing laundry and getting groceries.  And for all my plotting and scheming about the future, somehow I am never prepared for the now.  I have my entire bag packed in my head for a trip I am taking to Mexico next winter, but today I can’t find any matching socks.  So I run around and scramble in the moment, grumbling about having to find and wear pants, and wishing it was Friday.   The now always seems so mundane and chaotic at the same time.

I’ve tried to live more in the moment of now.  I really have.  I’ve made conscious effort to sit and breathe, and close my eyes and feel the moment, and open my eyes and see the moment, experience the beauty around me, savor the everything that is now.  And I’ve gotten better at it.  I can now experience a moment and take a picture of it in my head, imprint it on my soul, and just taste it.  But it doesn’t last long.  It really is just one very short moment and I will be on my way again, chasing the next moments.

Maybe it’s not so bad.  Maybe that’s just kinda who I am.  Or maybe I can learn how to be a little of both.  I’ll keep trying to find my Friday, but learn a little more to enjoy the Tuesdays too.   Life is short, and I don’t wanna miss anything, in the now and in the someday.  And maybe I’ll just wear mismatched socks whenever I want.

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Failure and Me, Frenemies for Life

Failure showed back up today. She’s always lurking around anyway, but today she decided to leap out from the shadows and kick my ass on the spot. She does that now and then. Perhaps she feels left out sometimes when I refuse to give her the time of day. Well, today, she won. And I gave up.

I’ve been running for 8 weeks now….sticking with the Couch to 5k program like a fucking stallion, if I say so myself.. And I do say so myself. Anyway, today was the first day that I couldn’t complete the assigned training run. Starting out in pain and full of chest congestion. Got one of these stinkin spring allergy/sinus/colds. Ugh. Hacking, coughing, and wheezing. I could tell even during the warm up walk that today was gonna be tough. But I started running and pushed through those familiar first few minutes of pain until the adrenaline and endorphins blend into that wonderful mixture that allows me to run with little pain. I searched for my rythym. But never found it today. Was wheezing and gasping for air from the beginning. I knew pretty soon that I might not make it today. Then all that mental work kicked in. Ya know, “You can do it, Stace!” “You just did this exact run on Thursday morning at 6am in the rain, you can nail it today.” And then….the negotiating, which usually works quite well for me….”Okay, Stacy, just make it up this hill, then you can take a break”…”okay, well, now you might as coast down the hill.”….”Just cross the next road, THEN you can walk if you need to.”…

And I did. Before I knew it, I apparently had “slowed to a walk.” It wasn’t a conscious decision. My legs just slowed down. WTH?!! I didn’t even realize I was walking until my legs started aching like crazy and then Bam! just seized up. Then I told myself “Ok, start running again before the pain gets too bad and you have to start all over getting into that rythym. Nope. Not gonna happen. Then it hit me. I had failed. Big time. I tried running three more times and my legs simply wouldn’t work. Not only did the shin splints come back with a fucking vengeance, but my 87 year old right hip decided that she’d rather hang out in a rocking chair knitting some booties while sipping tea. I also realized I was nausaus and had the shakes (either from the cold or from the fact that I keep forgetting to eat or just the realization that I had failed) Well, shit.

Not only had a I completely failed, but now I was a mile and a half from home and not sure how I’m gonna get home. I tried hitch-hiking but at this point any of the few neighbors that actually go down this rather deserted road are used to seeing me limping my way towards home. So I limped, slowly, back home, crying like a baby the whole way.

It was a long walk. And failure decided to join me. While I was limping pathetically towards a hot shower and some BenGay, she was skipping along next to me, cheerfully mocking me. Reminding me, again, that I set my goals too high and I should just give up now. Might as well stick to things I actually know how to do. She reminded me in her sing-song voice that fat girls shouldn’t run, old ladies shouldn’t try new tricks, klutzy dumb blondes should stick with mall walking where they might be able to also score a new pair of shoes and pretzel. And she told me very seriously, because she is, of course, very worried about me, that there is no way I will be ready for this race, maybe I should just do the 5k walk, or even better, just try again next year. She just chattered on and on, while I cried and cried (and of course, she made fun of me for THAT too). Failure is a heartless little bitch. But I’m too tired to fight her today. Hell, I can’t even run.

So, today, I’m going to listen to her. They say keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. And frankly, she might have something good to say eventually. I might be able to get some wisdom from her bullshit. I’ve heard bullshit makes excellent fertilizer. So I listened. I listened while I made it all the way home. I listened when I took a hot shower, and then later a hot bath to soak my hot muscles. I listened while I reached out to friends who I knew would support me, tell me it’s okay that we all have failure sometimes, and remind me of my inherent awesomeness. I listened while I made popcorn and opened a beer and settled in to watch some Harry Potter.

And here’s what she said when I wiped away all the steaming bullshit.
1. Dude. Everybody has bad days and bad runs (like the jogging kind, not the diarrhea kind…thought I should clarify due to my references to bull shit). It’s about time I failed on this program. I have managed to somehow do every training run in the program so far, and it was inevitable that I wouldn’t get 100%. Let’s just say I got it out of the way. Shake it off, and get the fuck over it.
2. Don’t assume your overall goals are too lofty when they might just be too much for your circumstances today. I felt like crap before I even went running, why am I surprised that I couldn’t do what I could do when I felt healthier two days ago? Seriously, Stace, catastrohpize much?!?!
3. Specifically to running, if you stop mid-run, you might be screwed. Well, at least it is really hard to get going again. This may take some strategy for how to run the 5k. But that’s to figure that out later. This knowledge might also help you keep going in the future.
4. Just give it all you got. And if you don’t have enough, you’ll probably still get home and get a hot shower eventually. Worst case scenario, if you do just crumple on the side of the road and cry, someone will probably have pity on you and give you a ride home. And perhaps a popsicle.
5. Give yourself some credit for what you’ve already accomplished. Um, Stacy, 8 weeks ago, you couldn’t run to the mailbox and now you are close to 2 miles. Stop focusing so much of how far you still need to go and look at how far you’ve come. Failure caught up today, but she had kick up her speed a little to catch you.

So this is what Failure, my arch Frenemy, taught me today. Sometimes she can actually be kinda cool. But just so bitchy. I will learn what I can from her today.

But Tuesday I plan on telling her to go fuck herself.

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Written April 2013

My Body: My Lifelong Companion

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I’ve been having a lot of reoccurring back pain and spasms again in the past several months. It’s been rather discouraging. Then, last Saturday, mid massage, my massage therapist, who has been working on me for over 8 years now, says, “wow…do you ever think about how different your body is then when we first started?” Huh, no, actually I hadn’t thought about that lately. She said that right after I quickly, and effortlessly, flipped over…a feat that used to require about 4 minutes, some swearing, and a lot of tears. I’ve been focusing so much on how AMAZING I felt about 2 years ago (when I was almost pain free after dumping the pain pills and starting several months of hypnotherapy and exercise) and felt that I was a total failure for having so many problems again lately.. Problems that I know are being caused by a more stressful job and my lack of effective coping skills at dealing with it. I had been so down on myself for my backward slide from those delightful but precarious pain free days, and hadn’t focused at all on how far I’ve come in the long run. In the past 8 years, my body has gained weight, lost weight, gotten stronger, gained weight, gotten even stronger, gotten sick, gotten over being sick (repeat and repeat), been bedridden for days (even weeks one time) due to pain, but has eventually always gotten out of bed, has worked out, and wandered new and strange cities, strolled foreign beaches, has hiked hundreds and hundreds of miles, has crossed rushing rivers and slid down muddy banks, has survived sprained ankles and shin splints and wacked IT bands, has carried backpacks full of what it needs to survive for 3 days, has been squeezed into airplane seats and other tight places for hours and still always pops back into it’s original shape, has danced the night away, has sent me signals when I was in danger and gotten me safely away, has gotten scraps and bruises and scars (and wears them very well), has worn out 3 elliptical trainers, 1 set of snow shoes, and at least 13 pairs of running and hiking shoes (and countless pairs of yoga pants), has ingested delights and toxins and lived to keep ingesting more, has climbed mountains, has groaned in intense pain, and moaned in intense pleasure, and it just keeps going.  And this is just in the past 8 years, let’s not forget the 30 something years before that.  And the several more that are likely to still come.  My body is strong.  Look where it has taken me. Perhaps I need to give it a little slack for crapping out on me on occasion.