100 Days til Disney – Building Habits

Today I woke to the knowledge that in 100 Days I will be at WALT DISNEY WORLD!

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Bit of a Disney geek…. just a tad! Actually it runs in the family because not long after waking my sister called & was just as excited. She is trying not to drive her husband nuts with the countdown, but we both have apps on our phones reminding us. She has a visual countdown with an idea she got from Pinterest to help lil wee nephew countdown with us (even though he hasn’t a clue where he is going).  At 70 days, his countdown will start! So exciting.

We were loving some Rafiki time! Those smiles!

We were loving some Rafiki time! Those smiles!

Mine however is going to be a bit more productive. I hope.

While I count down the days, I plan on building up some good habits.

It’s been done before in various ways. John “the Penguin” Bingham does 100 Days at the being of each year for people to start each year off right with 100 straight days of 30 minutes or more of exercise. One of my favorite blogs (seriously it is funny & beautifully done) Going Reno even declares that her 100 Day Experiment saved her life!

Most people would get a calender and start marking off the days. In the past I have found a picture with 100 bubbles to color in one day at a time. Even have seen where people get a 100 piece puzzle & add one piece for each day they complete the tasks. (Who has room to do that? or the patience?) Others use chalkboards or move beads from one jar to another. Me? I need some Mickey!

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At the end of each day where I complete the tasks, I will color in a Mickey.

So what am I doing for the next 100 days other than getting giddy with anticipation?

Going to go big & develop two habits.

Normally I would say focus on one, but both are things I do regularly just not as regularly as I would like.

  • WRITE – everyday. every single day. I do this sporadically but the reality is I need to write daily. Even if just for a few minutes. I MUST write at minimum 2 sentences per day for the next 100 days.
  • MOVE – I exercise a lot more than I used to but I can always do more. So everyday. At least one mile or 30 minutes per day of intentional physical activity. No rest days, but certainly understand their value and will rest groups of muscles regularly to avoid injury.

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That’s the plan. For the next 100 Days, starting today I will be moving (& burning off the Disney excitement energy) & writing (new Disney travel prep book in works?).

Let’s do this!

2015 Goals for Me

The past few years I have seen a lot of people who choose a word to embody their focus on the year ahead. I always wondered how they could pick just one word for 365 days and all the adventures in each of those 24 hours. The past couple of days I have been thinking about what I wanted to achieve in 2015. No real resolutions just goals to aim at. All this pensive planning has made one word in particular stand out.

EnjoyOriginal

My motivation behind all of the goals has been to enjoy life more. Sometimes the actions to get there aren’t the most fun choice, but in the end they will lead me to a place I can enjoy more.

Less stress. Less worry. Less letting myself go physically.

Time to enjoy the journey instead of constantly focusing on what is ahead and what I have left behind. Savor the seconds.

Some of my goals for the coming year are obvious to me – pass the certification exams to officially become a Certified Paralegal, keep lowering my A1c readings, lower my weight to my goal weight/size, get a job…

Others are more arbitrary – complete five 5Ks, read 50 books, try new things each week, attend at least one Panthers game (I was lucky enough to make it to TWO this year with great seats at both! Felt a bit spoiled!), finally clean out all the clothes that no longer fit or that I like.

What it all boils down to is becoming as healthy and as sustainable as I can be in order to enjoy my life.

Also would love to see my favorite team win the Super Bowl this year, but guessing I should stick with actions I actually have some control over. (BUT they are back to back division champions and have a real shot at Super Bowl rings this year! GO PANTHERS!)

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Why Hello Nov

How on earth is it possibly November already?

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The time is going much faster than I realized.  Just doesn’t feel like it should be here yet.  Enjoyed my Halloween night, probably more than I should have, but still I forget it means the end of the year is so close.

Decided that whatever happens this month, happens.  I am going to try best not to expect too much.  Tradition will come back in time.  This year we just need to be together and support each other.

That & I am going to focus on non-holiday goals as distractions.

Which speaking of goals… I achieved one MUCH quicker than I thought I ever would!  At the start of the year I joined the GoodReads.com challenge to set a goal number of books to read in 2013 & by the end of October… I have done it!

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Thought with my history of not finishing them last few years, that 2 a month would be a stretch!  Here I am at 25 instead of 24 with two whole months left to go.  So I will keep going & who knows.

Now will I be able to write a novel in a month? We shall see.  Again it is NaNoWriMo and I’m jumping in.  Why not?  50,000 words in 30 days, who says I can’t? Others have.  Shall see.

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Definitely feeling inspired today!  Starting something new with a new idea.  Who knows where it will lead.  Something to publish? Something just for me?  Or something for the recycle bin!  Either way it is all in the experience.

Still debating on which 5k to do this month.  Thought for sure I would be registered for one by now, but nope.  Dragging my feet.  Why I just don’t even know.  Part is the decision.  This one or that one.  Course I guess there is nothing that says you can’t do two a month!

Oh yeah & toss in all the normal daily stuff.  Should be an interesting month!

the 5k or rather the 20,000

First I want to thank you.

Anyone who reads this blog gets a big thank you & a hug if that is your thing.  Because knowing I wanted to post good news pushed me on as far as I could.

Also really grateful for good friends who I texted the day before in a panic wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea to sign up for.  Driving to Charlotte had a mini break down.  I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t train like I wanted to or really hardly at all.  I don’t do races.  I don’t run.  I don’t have any business faking it in a mass of people who are athletes.  The rhino will never be a unicorn.

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BUT I paid for it.  I said I was going to do it.   I had to go.  At least go.

So even though the day had ups of being excited & downs of pure fear, I went.

I had to at least go & see what it was all like.  Just sounded like so much fun.  A 5k at night with lights & sounds and who knows what kind of fun along the way followed by a party.  There was a tee with my name on it that I paid for and at the very least I had to pick it up.

I expected heat.  I expected bugs.  I even expected to be sore the next day.  I expected lots of people.  What I never expected was just how many people!

Twenty thousand people.

TWENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE
in one place.

Me & that pesky agoraphobia in a massive crowd that just kept growing.

Thankfully I planned ahead & brought support.  Along with the right shoes, socks, clothes, I packed my meds.  Even before I parked I had prepped myself with a klonapin.  I wanted this to be about physically pushing myself.  Never did I expect this many people.  It became more a mental challenge than physical very early on.  Still I decided I would go as far as I could.

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Got my registration packet (with that tee!) and my race bib was pinned on.  At first I tried my best not to look around, but that was impossible.  There were some very interesting costumes and outfits.   Also as much as I strive not to compare myself to others, I noticed that even though there were plenty of very athletic looking slim people warming up, there were also a lot of people who seemed to be nervous and carrying more weight than me.  Noticed that some had the typical running gear you expect.  Others seemed like just just walked up & decided to join in the fun last minute.  Jeans.  Heels (ok those were promo girls passing out an energy drink sample… but my mouth dropped for a moment thinking they were going to do the course in heels.).  Masks.  All sorts of looks gathered.  And gathered.  And gathered.

I zoned out as much as possible.  Texted friends.  Googled random stuff.  The line up shoot started filling so I made my way there to wait.  I made sure to go to one side and lean on the railing.  It made me feel like there was open space.

Space in the starting area just kept getting smaller and smaller.  The music helped.  I focused on lyrics and memories.  Reminded myself that I could do this even if part of me completely was calling bullshit on that thought.

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They announced that Charlotte was turning out to be more than any other race they had done before.  The largest group they had gathered before was  13,000.  People celebrated the 20,000.  It was announced over and over.  While it was great news to most, it was terrifying to me.  It made this all way more challenging than I ever imagined.

I wanted to run.  Not so much the race, but away from it all.

There was a moment where I stood paralyzed up against the railing. Every fiber in me wanted to run… to the car & drive as far as fast as I could but my body was frozen. Scared to move. Turning around I knew would cause me to see the increasing crowd that was even larger than the mass of people in front of me. Going forward wasn’t an option because no one could get thru yet. Thru the railing was an option I considered because I knew I couldn’t go over without falling or taking it down with me. I was too unsteady to clear it in anything remotely considered graceful.  Thru was my only choice but it would be close. Too close. Afraid that I would get part way thru my escape and be stuck didn’t sound like an option. As freaked as I was drawing any more attention would only cause even more panic & the results would not be pretty. My only method of surviving was maintain. Stay still. Right where I was. Breath deep and try to focus on the music, the cell phone, camera, anything but the surge of strangers engulfing the area as far as I could see ahead & surely behind.

I hit a point where I knew I had to try.

Thankfully the race started and they started letting groups of a thousand at a time go.  I was in the third wave.  Not sure I would have gone if I had to wait longer than that but some how moving forward helped.  I rationalized that the closer I got to the front, the easier it would be to get out of the mass of people to head back to the car.

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Closer I got the more I talked myself through what would happen if I did leave.  Had to at least see some of the sights.

So I used the adrenaline from that loathed fight or flight response to push me on.

When it came time, instead of heading back away from the track – I pushed forward with the pack.

Even though there were unexpected hills and I felt as though I were in a stampede most of the time, I FINISHED.

The ENTIRE 5k I FINISHED.

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I wasn’t the first to finish.  I didn’t run it. I didn’t track my time (forgot to make sure my FitBit was charged so went unplugged without the pedometer).

Also I wasn’t the last to finish.  I didn’t stop.  I didn’t get hurt and I ENJOYED seeing everything and being able to make it to the end.

There was a point where I just let go & went with it.

Part of it was meds, but I know from experience sometimes even those don’t completely help.  Sometimes all you can do is get away from the situation and the people.  I fought through to being okay and focusing on me.  My goal of doing this.

Physically there were a few times I wondered if this was smart idea.  I had no idea how far I was or how much more there was to go.  The map I looked at before was gone from my memory and I didn’t see any real posted distances.

It was towards the end that I started to wonder if anyone had ever died attempting a 5k.  How embarrassing would that be to have me die on a 5k track!  I didn’t feel that bad, but I was starting to feel my body again.  Certainly was noticing how it would have been nice to have my legs & feet used to the distance.  As if on que someone mentioned to their running buddy that they were almost done.  “Just a little over half a mile left go to.”  SWEET!  It was then that I knew I could and would finish this.  I started to feel pride instead of fear.

The sky above seemed to sparkle just a bit brighter.

Getting to the finish line and then seeing the party was truly surreal.

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There may or may not have been a couple of tears in my eyes as it sank in that I did it.  I still am extremely proud.

Wanted to call my Mom & tell her.  Knew she would be proud of me for being there and pushing myself in so many ways.

Seemed fitting that when I got back in my car to leave, the first thought I had was of her voice saying like she had so many times “Well, would you do it again?”.  I had heard her say that phrase so many times.  After things she was proud of me doing and also after things she really didn’t think were great choices.  Perfect.

My answer this time…. Absolutely.

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Scary as it was, it was worth it.

As someone said – Go Big or Go Home.

Pretend you are there… (super short clips of some of the sights & sounds)

The Start

Loops

Umbrellas

Rainbow Row

Bubble Tunnel

Party

Party and

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By Dawn’s First Light

ahhh.  a brand new month begins.

Full of promise, without all the pomp of January’s New Year.  I didn’t really make any resolutions, but lately I have wanted to start a lot of things.  A lot feels on hold.  With so much going on and that could change at a moment’s notice, it just doesn’t seem smart to plan too much.  Yet now I am starting to get used to the current life in two cities situation.  The drive is around 3ish hours and typically there isn’t much traffic.  The highway may be a bit dull with few & far stops in between, but it is nice.  LOTS of thinking time.

There is balance in the days I am home.  Silence.  No plans (other than classes) & no one depending on me.  Much beloved beach time.  Here with my parents, the responsibilities seem almost freeing.  I spend time by mom’s bedside, giving my dad a much deserved break.  Keep the medications all on schedule.  Cook the meals & try to have something leftover to get them through a couple of days that I am not here.  While mom sleeps I do homework, read, blog, discover new recipes and relax.  Dream a little.  Remember a lot.

While I still feel a bit like this is all happening so fast, I recognize time is passing.  From the start my mom always made it perfectly clear that she never wanted my sister or I to put our lives on hold for her illness.  When I made the decision to split my time it was after much debate.  Dropping classes wasn’t an option in her mind.  In the ER in December she made me promise to finish this.  She knows how much I enjoy it & worries that I will sink back into fear (the agoraphobic years).  She didn’t want me dropping a single class, but it just had to be this way.  For all of us.  I had to be firm & tell her that this wasn’t up for discussion I was making a statement when I finally presented her with my class schedule.  We had tried arranging it several ways to keep the full time load, but nothing seemed to work out.   I’m grateful that I am able to live in the two worlds and that I have this time with her now.

So now that I have my feet firmly planted on my flying carpet what next?

I feel like I want something to work towards.  Always do better when I have something to aim at.  Some positive, happy events.

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So I am setting a few new goals for myself.  (Some to work on some to reward and pamper myself)

1.  Try a new recipe each week.  (Easy since I have my parents kitchen to work with & several people ready to help me eat whatever I make)

2.  Write.  I thought about doing a statement of “Every day” but the reality is there may be some days where the homework will need to come first or there may be situations where family time is more pressing.  So still going to set a goal, but one that is flexible.  Inspired by a friend’s commitment to finish 50k in a month, I decided to set a month goal.  7,000 words for February.  Works out to around 250 per day.  Totally do able.

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3.  Visit the ocean each week.  Even if only for a few seconds.  The sounds of the surf calm me like no other.  So far so good this year.  Even was able to take my torts book out to read the chapter this past week, stormy weather coming & everything.  It is just grounding to be there and I need it to soothe my soul.

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4.  Also I have a severely neglected gratitude jar that I started New Years Day.  So far the sad lil thing has ONE PIECE of paper in there.  This changes TODAY.  More gratefulness and stopping not only to smell the roses, but to take a few pictures as well.  Or in this case jot down how incredible they smelled & how they made me miss showering at my grandma’s where she always had a bottle of that pink herbal essence stuff that made your hair smell like roses.

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5.  Give more compliments.  Maybe it is the intensity of everything happening right now, but more than ever I feel people NEED joy in their lives.  Friends, family & complete strangers.  Simple acts of love and compassion to show how we are all together in this struggle of life.  We all deal with something and could use the smile.  So comments on blogs, smiles and telling someone how great those boots look, just more happiness to share.

Oh & plan the best baby shower ever for a mom carrying the best kid in the world!  (Did I mention she HATES pink & isn’t so fond of baby blue either?) No storks allowed & no pulling pins off people when they say “baby”.  Thankfully I’m not planning alone.  Her sisters by choice are on board. We are going to have a blast.  She deserves it!

All in all I’m determined.  February will be wonderful.  Just got to be.

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& of course blog about it along the way.

1. Recipestill working on this one
2. Writing: 284 words for the day so far 
3. OceanWednesday study session

The Dare – Student Edition

Caffeine has nothing on enthusiasm.  Another day wide away before I need to be.  Just too excited to get going to the next phase.

Virgo: Travel plans that you have been working on for a while are finally taking shape now. Or, perhaps, you’re enrolling in an educational program, making your upcoming journey a mental one. Either way, you’re at the threshold of a great adventure and previous resistance continues to fall away as Mars in your sign gains speed. Fortunately, you receive an extra boost of help today from the practical Sun-Pluto trine, so focus on a single goal and work to make your dreams come true.

Sounds like I am right where I need to be.  Love it when you do something because you know its what is right for you & then you end up getting all these confirmations that you are exactly where you need to be.

Yes its slightly scary to take the leap, but I know now I have wings & with the effort, I will soar.

End of another chapter on the resume.  May seem slightly sudden, but its been coming for a while.  I am feeling wonderful about it & ready to start working towards my next phase in life.   The experience was valuable.    So the application is in, transcripts are on their way and my FAFSA is in the works as well as plans to get by for however long this ends up taking to build the dream.

I’m putting my money where my mouth is & walking the talk.  If you only live once, there is no reason to wait a moment more to reach for the dream.

Also time to be slightly realistic & make a plan!  So the plan. (yes… again the Virgo is going to try to plan!)  This time I am less afraid & more focused on getting through the tough times to where I want to be.  I am in a holding pattern til I can confirm if I will be starting school in the summer session or the fall.  Also need to confirm on the financial aspects.  The age old do I do the student loan question.  I have never had one before, but this time I don’t expect anyone to pay for this but myself.  My parents and both sets of grandparents were kind enough to bless me with my bachelors degree.  My PHR was paid for by a former employer.  These building blocks certainly are paying off & I am truly lucky to have had them.  Now to use them to grow on.  Sure scholarships & grants would be great but most I have found are for undergraduates and single moms.  (PLEASE feel free to alert me to any that I may qualify for in the comments! I am very open to working on getting them & if your lead pays off, who knows I may reward you.  Don’t get too excited though I will be a college student on a budget!)

So again the plan, or the challenge I am setting for myself:

  1. Work out at least 4 times a week 30 minutes
  2. Keep waking up by 9:00 am for at least 5 days per week
  3. STUDY!  No sense waiting for classes to begin learning.  Time is now.  Learn vocabulary, concepts, forms etc.
  4. Improve typing speed
  5. Live on $100 a week (But I am changing the rules on this one)

Each week I am going to limit myself to $100 per week to eat, entertain myself, etc on.  This will not include bills, gas, medication or pet expenses.  It will include clothes, food, going out, all that extra stuff.  Again there is a way to add to the amount!  Achieve in order to get more.  Reward system.  Budget living again, but with hope.

As before – Any food in the house or anything given to me won’t count cost wise.  Also I can and will find ways to earn cash. Still resolving not to touch the 401k!  To add to the weekly allowance I can gain some extra cash flow by earning it:

  • For every application for a scholarship, grant or employment I complete & submit = $1.00
  • For every hour I volunteer = $1.00
  • For every interview I go on = $1.00
  • For every extra 30 minutes of exercise beyond the 1st 4 sessions per week = $1.00
  • Each day I track over 10,000 steps in a day = $1.00
  • For each book I finish = $1.00 for each book, $5.00 for anything related to the law field.

So back to the plan.  Tracking everything I do.  My life is my job.  For now at least.  I still am doing the catering service and actually am working a wedding today.  Perhaps with the increase in film production locally lately, I will find myself doing extra work again soon.  Once I get the green light on classes & can figure out my school schedule, I can get a better idea on what hours I can work.  Then its job hunt time.  But for now I am not sure if I’m going to summer or fall session & not 100% confirmed where I will be studying.  So a lot is up in the air.

I’m beyond excited.  Feels 100% right for me.  Can work in a field where again I am helping others.  Law school could be an option down the road, but I believe I am more into the research and administrative assistance side.  Not sure I would be much for the public speaking in a court room.  This way I get to be part of the team & support in the efforts but get to stay out of the limelight.  Completely know the value of support.  Reminded how much of a gift it can be as I do this with the support of friends & family.

Not alone and not accepting defeat in this fight.  Time to grow.  Time to prove myself once again.  Time to survive and thrive!

I’m open to any advice or suggestions that you have.  Please feel free to contact me if there is anything to share.  Encouragement, advice, links, all completely welcomed.

Now I’m off to search for scholarships and read a little before I am off to assist with making a bit of magic for a happy couple (& getting a great workout, food & my next paycheck!).

Another Try?

Been a weekend of ups & downs.

Closer to a great friend & excited about her beautiful future.  Feeling so lucky to know I have friends who are so supportive when I feel horrible.  Also very grateful that after putting my faith into another person who didn’t deserve it, I am ok knowing that at least I love myself enough to not to put up with certain things! Still disappointing when the guy turns out not to be what you thought he might.  85 has definitely been 86’d and will not get a third time at bat.

Change in seasons & change in focus.  Regroup & recharge.  …& maybe restock the fridge later today! Starting to think no one actually lives here anymore.

Revise the goals time:

  • 10 on 10give $10 to a non-profit each month on the 10thalthough it seems like its hard sometimes to do this on time, but it happens.
  • Read more! - I need more time in my life to read.  But lunches work great. Thinking of treating myself to a new book today but feeling guilty about a few I haven’t finished. Still I know I can finish one by the end of this month.  Got a few new suggestions & frankly the distraction from life is so welcome right now.  I can’t imagine a world without books!
  • Try one new thing each week – last week had me trying pole dancing.  I think I am sticking to the adventurous side.  Always room to try new things.
  • Work on the photo scavenger hunt more – hoping to get into a new spot to take a few pictures soon. I keep forgetting what to look for in this!  Need to at least get 2 more done by the end of this month.  Should be inspiring not work.
  • Continue my love affair with Post Crossing had to get more postcards & stamps, but its still so much fun.
  • Daily food picture –  366 dishes – funny how I get on certain kicks. Like spicy chicken wraps & grapefruits.
  • Spend an hour with someone else outside of work each week – this week was seriously fun and feels great to be around someone who can laugh at similar things, like barney purple yoga pants paired with a sunshine yellow lace top.  Where were that poor thing’s friends?
  • Comment on at least 2 blogs per week – so much great stuff is blogged about & I read several religiously, other blogs I stumble upon and get inspired.  Yet I don’t comment as often as I should.  I know that there are a few eyes on here and yet the comments are all spam, which is ok I just delete them.  But I want to bring a smile if I can letting others know that someone is reading. So comments are coming. 
  • Check out at least 2 new potential houses per week – I will never find my new place if I stop looking.  I need breaks sometimes when it all just seems like its never going to work, but I can not stop.  Goals are never achieved by completely letting go.  Sometimes you have to loosen the grip, but you still have to know where you are trying to go.

Optimistic? Sure why shouldn’t I be.  Life is what you make it.  Sometimes that means you have to keep out the bad guys.  Its not always easy and sometimes it hurts, but otherwise you will pay. I prefer to rip the band-aid off quickly instead of enduring the slow pain.

Thinking of a few other more drastic challenges to focus on.  Maybe a fitness one? Something with cooking? dreaming of the options.

Any suggestions?