Summer Beautification Program: Assignment 1

First I just want to let you know I am giddy as a three-year-old at her own birthday party over the response this idea has had. Thank you for making it possible. I usually just throw these ideas at the wall and pray something sticks. Like when I was ten-years-old and tried to get my neighborhood friends to band together to raise money for fireworks and a pizza party but I killed the idea cold in its tracks when I decided to call the group “Autumn Splendor” because the fundraiser was to take place in August with the celebration over Labor Day Weekend and my friends didn’t have the heart to tell me I was a super dork who specialized in being cheesy with my love of words. But obviously, this isn’t anything like that because I have lived a few more years and most people have secretly discovered that they are as nerdy as me. Or they appreciate my nerdiness because it makes them feel better about themselves. Or they’re benevolent souls who take pity on us socially awkward ones. Or you got peer pressured into taking on the challenge because another friend asked you to and you thought, “Eh, what the hell…”

Whatever your case may be, YOU ARE HERE; Welcome to the party! There may be pizza and/or fireworks. It just depends on how far we decide to take this thing.

So here we are approaching summer even though Michigan is being a cantankerous crone and refuses to warm up appropriately, have faith it will be warm soon! I have talked to more people lately who are in a self-proclaimed funk, especially my mom friends. We don’t know why. We are just less than enthused with life. Everything has lost its sparkle a bit. We are underwhelmed looking at ourselves in the mirror. We are feeling tired, drained, and depleted. We may even be angry at ourselves for letting resolutions slip through our fingers yet again. 

Social media doesn’t help us. Scrolling through my feed it looks like everyone is having the best days of their lives. Meanwhile, I think I need to reapply deodorant, I’m hoping I remembered to buy bread the last time I went to the store, my hair looks like it’s about to take flight from my scalp with these fly-aways I have, and I don’t know if it’s considered neglect to have your kids eat cereal for dinner three days in a row, but I’m hoping not because I don’t have enough cash to tip the pizza delivery driver tonight. 

So, do you feel me? The problem is, we are so stuck in our own heads all the time. Judging by what we see, it’s hard to believe anyone feels unhappy anymore. We think we’re the only ones. But how can I be so discontented? 23 people liked my Instagram picture? I had ten really sweet comments from people who saw the picture I posted of little Timmy at the zoo…why do I feel sad? 

Let me ask you  a few questions: When was the last time you played?  I don’t mean Pokemon cards with your seven year old. I mean, when did you do something for yourself that made you feel creative or joyful like painting, writing or journaling or even photography—not with the intention of posting it to social media? When was the last time you ran around outside and had pink cheeks, tangles in your hair and were out of breath from doing something fun for you, not just your kids ? When was the last time you connected with another soul in a real and meaningful way, like by having a real discussion, one-on-one with a friend or family member. A conversation that made you think, “Wow! I never thought of it that way.”

When was the last time you became completely vulnerable, opening yourself up to be judged and found not only did that friend not judge you, they loved you harder than they did before because in that split second, they saw your humanity and your imperfections laid open bare and decided that they see the real you underneath it all? And when was the last time we did that for someone else? This, friends, is LIVING a creative and meaningful life. This is LOVING yourself and those around you exactly as you are, not worrying about what anyone will think of you. And so many of us have lost the ability to do these things.  

SO here is where we are going to spring board from. You are going to catapult yourself right into living with purpose. Each week, I’ll post a prompt or assignment for you to do at any point in the next seven days. It will help you to get in touch with your inner self. It will require you to use imagination. You will need to make a little time for it.  But before you say, “I really don’t have time for it,” may I please point out to you that you make time for each of your kids to do their things? You make time to help other people every day. There is that metaphor about being on the airplane and securing your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs. You cannot effectively help anyone else until you are willing to help yourself. Make time for this. Make time for yourself. You will notice that you’ll start doing all of your work and duty with more joy when you start paying attention to yourself.

Your assignment for Week 1…Get ready, it’s a tough one. You might have to ignore your phone for at least a half hour after you get the kids to bed in order to accomplish it.

Write a letter. 

Not an email, an actual paper letter hand-written (not typed) to someone you love. But here is the catch; you have to tell them what they mean to you. I know…warm fuzzies… Uncomfortable. But I promise, so worth the reaction. You may actually be really excited about this. Other ideas: draw a picture to go with it. Stickers. If you’re feeling daring, sprinkle it with glitter. Or “Elle Woods” it with a little fragrance.

Pro Tip: Shake out your hand if it cramps up while writing; it’s probably been a while since you wrote anything longer than a grocery list (if you don’t have Alexa). 

The Only Rule: This is only a letter. You cannot send a gift with it. The written words are the gift to the recipient. We are harkening back to the days when flashy things didn’t impress us yet. I repeat: You can only send a letter. Do not try to sneak in a gift card. This isn’t a birthday gift. This is a “Just Because I Love you and I Need You To Know Why” gift. If it also happens to be someone’s birthday, you can send a separate card and tell them it’s my fault and you will have to buy another stamp. Sorry. You should have picked someone else who wasn’t celebrating a birthday.

Last step: Put it in an envelope and place a stamp on it. If the lick-able seal on the envelope is a dealbreaker for you, two words that will change your life: Glue. Stick.

Last, put it in a mailbox. Wait. See what happens. You might get a phone call in a few days OR A LETTER BACK! 

Bonus Assignment: Take a twenty minute walk without your phone. Unless you are pregnant or diabetic, or have another health condition that requires you to have access to a phone. But the idea is to get outside and listen to the sounds of nature around you. Twenty minutes. You can do this as many times this week as you like. Just be sure that you disconnect and are alone in your head. 

Again, thank you for joining me in my quest to liberate our bodies, minds and spirits from the oppression of expectations and societal pressures that we and others place on ourselves. I look forward to reading your comments of your experiences if you feel like sharing them. And if you don’t, that’s fine too! 

Easter at my sister and brother-in-laws. I didn’t plan on hitting baseballs but I was so glad I did! Everyone needs to let loose and have fun!

Summer Beautification Assignment

ozjykIsnRP6JMZ89lRo06QI drank coffee this morning which doesn’t happen daily. But when it does,  I go into spiritual beast mode. That coupled with the fact that I am going through the process to become a certified personal trainer has me feeling impassioned to remind you– YOU– that you are so much more than you think you are. This isn’t lip-service. This isn’t me telling you what I think you want to hear so you’ll keep reading my blog. This is me telling you from the center of who I am that you are a worthy, beautiful, glorious soul.

When I am reading my study materials for this course and I have to memorize the fact that “Roughly 2/3 of Americans are categorized as overweight or obese” I want to cry. Why are we killing our bodies? Why are we putting unhealthy foods and chemicals dressed up like “food” inside of our bodies? Don’t you know you’re worth more than that? And why aren’t we out walking in nature for just twenty minutes a day, or making time to sweat out the toxins? Why are we muting our spirits? Why aren’t we living the robust, healthy lives we were created to live? I’m asking–Seriously! Why are we burying ourselves in problems and addictions just so that we don’t have to face our feelings?

I know how real it is! I have struggled in my own ways. I will tell you for me, it was the simple fact that I was out of touch with my soul, my inner self, my truth, my essence…whatever you want to call it. I was a “human doing,” not a human being. I prioritized everyone else’s needs before my own and I got burnt out and I fell apart. The only thing I kept going was working out regularly, but I was doing it in a self-punishing way. My mental/emotional and spiritual health were basically in a coma until recently. I am awake now. I want to help others wake up. I want to do my part to help others so they don’t have to collapse like I did. So this is my mission in life.

Over the summer I am going to publish a weekly “assignment” of sorts to help you delve into the inner facets of yourself that maybe you’ve been neglecting. If you are not a regular follower of my blog and would like to make a small commitment over the next few weeks to delve into this low-commitment journey of self-exploration, please select the option to follow my blog. I promise these won’t be any kind of difficult assignments (Ain’t nobody got time for that). I just can’t think of a better way to classify these prompts without it getting really wordy…Exercises in unearthing your

unnamedphysical/emotional/spiritual self…getting off your butt and living beyond existing…I don’t know. It just seems like more than that.

No need to enroll or anything like that. It’s very informal. It’s my “Summer Beautification Assignment.” I am just putting this out into the universe with the hope that it will help someone who needs it. Happy Thursday. 



Battling the Riptide

Last month, we vacationed in St. Augustine, Florida as a family.  We’d never taken the kids to the Atlantic before that. For the past ten years or more, we’ve always gone to the Gulf side of the state. The waves are really gentle over there, but the east side of Florida gets pummeled by the ocean. In the mornings, the waves were cheeky, nipping at the feet of runners and sandpipers looking for little fish. But in the afternoon and evening, the ocean had worked itself up like a puppy that doesn’t know its own strength. 

  On one of those afternoons, Scott and I took our boogie boards out into the waves and onto a sandbar that was a little way out. We were jumping onto our boards and riding the waves out on our bellies seeing how far it would take us before we had to start paddling. But then we had to swim back to the sandbar to start again. The waves would shove us back to the shore but then suck us back in with so much force, it was actually scary sometimes how quickly I was getting caught in the waves and suddenly being slammed into the sand below. 

  A few yards away, two men were doing the same thing, but obviously had more practice. They were able to stand on their boards for some of the bigger swells. Scott and I would stop to watch them, impressed by how well they were doing. I surrendered after a while, getting thrashed too many times by the waves. 

  I swam back to the shore and saw a woman staring out to where the two men were. Her eyebrows were knitted together in a frown and I noticed she kept waving to them with both arms. Moments later, a pick up truck rolled onto the beach and a lifeguard jumped out and into the surf after the two men. I asked the woman if everything was ok. 

  “My brother is caught in the riptide,” she said. “He’s a good swimmer, but he can’t get past it right now.” I looked back out to where I had been and where they were and sure enough, one of the two men had drifted away further into the ocean. 

  Scott paddled back then realizing something was going on and we watched as the lifeguard took the man further out past the riptide to get him back in. He ended up being fine, but he looked tired. The woman was relieved that they were back on the beach.

  I am telling this story because I thought it was a really accurate metaphor for life. You think you’re doing all right managing the rolling patterns of your days. But life can get overwhelming; you get tossed around by the waves of emotions or obligations. You tell yourself to “just keep swimming.” You can see the shore so you think you’re doing fine swimming on your own. You know the break is not far off. But before you know it, no matter who you are, or how good you are at life, even the ones who never seem to struggle, can find themselves in a state of panic not knowing how to get back to the shore. And it happens without warning. You know where you need to be, but try as you might, you can’t seem to get back. 

 Some days I pray and I feel so clearly, God is coming to my rescue giving me the strength I need to get through things. But others, prayers aren’t enough. I find myself calling for help. I am very blessed to have family and friends who answer when I need them. They’re my lifeguards and they help me find my way back. You know who you are and I am so grateful for each of you who have answered my calls or somehow had exactly the words I’ve needed to continue. I don’t know what I’d have done without you. 

  I found a great quote recently. ‘There are five types of people you want to surround yourself with: the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful and the open minded.” I am blessed to know people who embody all of those qualities and believe that having them in my life has saved mine.  

  The very few gleanings I’ve gathered in life have led me to be able to confidently say, find the people who lift you up. If the people closest to you make you feel negative, depressed, lazy, ungrateful and/or judgmental, reevaluate those friendships. Don’t be afraid to create a little distance from them. And also think about if you are the one creating toxicity in other people’s lives. We must be the things that we need in others. We attract what we give. It’s never too late to start again redefining who we are.  Don’t worry if you realize you’re off course. There are times in life when we need a lifeguard and others when we can be the lifeguard. But the only way to become one is to swim, to live life as best as we can, succeeding and failing, sometimes all in the same day. We must use our failures to become stronger. Once we heal from our setbacks, we can grow and help others who are stuck where we were. It teaches us humility and gratitude.