Stand in your truth

Hi my superheroes!

I feel like I might actually be ready to write this post- and I feel like this might be part of the reason I’ve had trouble writing for a while.

Tonight I want to talk about living in your truth.

There’s a lot to unpack there, isn’t there? Let’s see.

First of all, to be able to live in our own truth means that we have to know ourselves well enough to know what that is. Yikes, that seems convoluted. What I mean by that is, when a situation comes up, you have to know where you stand on it. And you have to stand there for yourself.

A lot of times, when you face a difficult situation, there will be people in your life, people that you care about and who’s opinions you value. And those people will be on opposite sides of your situation. They’ll tell you to turn right, yelling to be louder than the people you value telling you to go left.

You have to make the choice for yourself.

Sometimes, you’ll choose poorly. That’s the risk. Sometimes, you’ll think you were doing everything right and all of a sudden, you’re upside down in a ditch with no idea how you got there. You still have to choose.

So once we know where we stand, then you have to find a way to act on it. You have to. No options. If you’re going to stand up for something, you have to put your money where your mouth is.

And that can be so, so, so scary. I know. But here’s what else I know. You’ll feel better for it.

Say, for example, you see a friend making a risky change. Maybe your best friend is catching feelings for someone new, and after thinking about it, you realize the guy is bad news. Do you tell your friend?

Yes. You speak the truth with great love, but you tell her. And when you do, you’ll feel it. Your chest will loosen up. Your breath will ease. Speaking the truth, even when you’re scared, is a huge, huge part of becoming a superhero.

But it’s more than just having the courage to speak up. Every now and then, we’ll be faced with a situation that will test us. Every now and then, you’ll have to stop in and check in: Does this still feel right? Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation that no one else will understand, but for whatever reason, it feels right to you. Follow that instinct. Stay on your own path, no matter how twisty it seems. Find your place, and stand tall.

 

Superhero action of the day: Stop and take a minute today to really determine where you stand on something you’ve been avoiding.

10 reasons to exercise (that have nothing to do with your weight)

It’s Wednesday! It’s Hump Day! You can do this! Halfway there!

Today at the gym, I hopped on a treadmill and ran/walked a 5k. It’s been a LONG time since I did that- I used to be a regular runner, albeit never a particularly great one. But I ran several times a week and got up to doing three or four miles without a break. And then, as is the way of things sometimes, I got hurt. I developed some pretty gnarly plantars fasciitis, severe pain in my right heel and was forced to stop running.

I’ve talked already about my personal struggles with dieting and exercise. Because of those struggles, I’ve decided that it just isn’t healthy for me to focus my fitness efforts into weight loss and calorie counting. So when I turned again to running as a form of exercise, I found it really easy to train- more miles, faster miles, etc. In the last year, when I haven’t been running as much, I’ve had to work on finding other good exercise goals- and that hasn’t always been easy. So tonight, I thought I would share a few reasons to exercise- that have nothing to do with body shape or size.

Ready? Here we go!

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  1. Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. I know that can seem counter intuitive, but when you find something you can enjoy doing, you will find happiness in it.
  2. It builds confidence. It’s a lot easier to make hard phone calls, have hard conversations, and in general be a superhero when you feel good about yourself. And one of the things that makes me feel good about myself is seeing slow but steady gym progress.
  3. Exercise builds strong muscles. Stronger muscles have a ton of health benefits- everything from better heart health (Heart disease is the number one killer of women!) to greater ease of movement.
  4. It releases stress. When I started boxing, I thought the best part was going to be a killer upperbody workout. While that is certainly true, the honest to goodness best part is that whaling away on a heavy bag eliminates just about every piece of stress you’ve ever felt. And if you’re angry with someone, my recommendation is to picture his or her face on said heavy bag. Is it the most peaceful mindset in the world? Probably not. But I’m telling you, it’s incredibly effective.
  5. You’ll sleep better. If you’ve ever lain awake at night tossing and turning, you know how torturous it is. The best way I know to fix that is to work out hard- expend enough energy to make your body tired enough for sleep.
  6. You’ll have more energy. Again, it may seem counter intuitive, but regular exercise makes one more energetic- and who doesn’t want that?
  7. You’re less likely to get sick- from everything from the common cold to cancer. No, I’m not exaggerating.
  8. There are a whole host of brain benefits too- everything from memory improvement to boosting creativity and productivity.
  9. Helps you make better food decisions. I don’t know why it works, necessarily, but it seems to be true across the board- once you start working out, more conscientious eating often follows.
  10. Exercise is a (vital) part of self care. The best superheroes take care of themselves AND others. Your workout every day helps you do just that.
www.superheroliving.blog Baby Steps

Baby Steps

If you’ve been reading along, you know I haven’t had the easiest Summer. It’s been hard to figure out this full time freelancing thing!

So today, I went to work at one of the schools where I have some Summer work and worked for several hours. I went to the gym and lifted. I came home and took a shower.

And then I gave myself a reward.

And Penelope and I went and got ice cream.

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Because here’s the thing. Sometimes, you have to take baby steps. Sometimes, you have to acknowledge where you are and appreciate that spot. Sometimes, even if you’re not where you want to be, you have to appreciate that you made steps.

Sometimes,  that’s what it takes to get you moving tomorrow.

So! If you’re struggling this Summer too, first of all, know that that’s absolutely ok. Struggling is fine. Struggling is good. Struggling only becomes a problem when you don’t do anything about it. You have to keep moving forward. It’s very important!

But if you’re struggling, you just take one step today. Just one. You even get to decide what the step is! Maybe it’s taking a shower. Maybe it’s making a tough phone call. Maybe it’s going to work, or the grocery, or just leaving the house. Maybe it’s going for a walk.

Whatever you choose, do that today. Do it again tomorrow. And you continue to make those steps until you can add another step.

 

You got this. We got this. I promise.

Vulnerability

You know what one of the hardest things in the whole world is?

Being vulnerable. Telling your truth. Especially when you aren’t proud of what you have to say.

Being vulnerable. Especially when you’re scared.

Being vulnerable. When you’re used to being strong.

Being vulnerable. When you’re ashamed.

Being vulnerable. Like, ever.

This week, I’ve had to face a couple of hard truths. The biggest one, of course, I shared with you all last night. And that was hard. I didn’t start this blog to be a downer. I started it to encourage and help people. But I also started it to be honest. I started it to practice my own vulnerabilities. I started it to be brave. I started the blog to be a superhero.

But then I realized something.

You know how in the comics or tv shows, sometimes something bad happens to the hero, or, more frequently his (why are they always men?) love interest, and the hero goes to some scary, dark place, pushes every one away and goes strong and silent? And if you’re anything like me, you scream at the page or the screen and say “YOU MORON, let them HELP YOU. You can’t DO THIS ALONE, DON’T TRY.” And then they go off and do it anyway?

Or, even worse, someone you care about in your life pulls that crap? Won’t let you help with something? Insists on doing it him/herself? Whatever it is- and whomever? And you fume and rage and think, STOP IT, LET ME HELP WITH THIS. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Well. I realized recently that I was doing the same thing. Maybe not quite as dramatically (at least, I hope), but it certainly has been affecting the way I behave.

So, in the interest of being brave, I’m trying to be vulnerable about my struggles. Because that’s a big part of being brave for me. So I hope you’ll bear with me! This is part of my superhero training.

I know the struggles will pass. I know that I have an entire village of people itching to help. But I also know that shame dies in a petri dish of honesty. So vulnerable honesty is what we’ll go with. Even when it’s difficult.

 

Superhero action of the day: find something you’re afraid of talking about. And share it with someone. Tell them how you feel. You can do it! I believe in you.

When you find yourself in a rut

Hi Superheroes!

I have a confession to make. When I found out that I wasn’t going to have a lot of work commitments this Summer, I was preliminarily excited. I was coming off a really long, work intensive and exhausting school year, and I was ready for a rest. I started thinking about all of the things I could do over my break- starting this blog, launching my professional online presence, learning new skills, working on my sewing skills, planning for next year, drumming up more work the coming season.

It’s July fourth, and I’m in a rut.

In fact, I was talking to someone about it today, and she suggested it sounded a lot like depression. She’s not wrong. It does sound a lot like depression. And to be honest? I’m struggling. I haven’t gotten very much done- most of my projects haven’t progressed past the prep stage. I’m sleeping erratically, eating erratically and watching an absolutely ridiculous amount of Netflix.

There have been extenuating circumstances. Funerals. Friends that need me. Weddings. And I underestimated how exhausted I was.

But now it’s becoming pretty clear, I’m feeling stuck and unmotivated. I know I should do more, but I find myself simply unwilling to get off my couch and do it.

And that, my friends, is frustrating. I’ve always considered myself highly effective. I have systems. I am efficient. I meal plan and prep and pack. I schedule my life down to the minute. I make lists.

But those systems only work when I’m very busy. When I only have four or five hours of requirements for an entire week… why should I bother to meal plan? When I have that much free time, it becomes easy to put off things I should do in favor of a longer walk, or a nap.

I’m not sure what to tell you. I’m going to keep trying to push through. My plan for tomorrow is to get up and put in a full work day… away from my couch and Netflix subscription.

So if you’ve also got a set of the Mid-Summer blues, I’m here with you. I am sure it will pass. But in the mud, here in the rut, it’s hard. I get it. We’ll do it together.

 

Fireworks

Fireworks are pretty magical, right? I mean, I know, I know, I’m sure they are very scientific and specific, but to me, they have always been magical. I like everything about them. The flash and the magic, the colors, the loud sounds, the way they pull people together, even the fact that you have to see them at night. They’re beautiful and brash, but also a little mysterious. IMG_1739

Fireworks remind us that a little bit of magic can be carried into our everyday lives. We can carry a little bit of that explosion, that spark with us. Fireworks help us remember that things are special.

IMG_1771There’s a reason we show them at special occasions. There’s a reason we oooh and ahh.

And maybe you’re someone’s reason to ooh and aah a little bit. Maybe you’re someone’s firework- or maybe you could be. IMG_1716

Superhero Action of the Day: Be a little magic today.

Go on an adventure- www.superheroliving.blog

Adventure is out there

Sometimes, you have to be a little spontaneous.

I am not, by nature, a spontaneous person. I like routine, and lists, and schedules. I like plans. I like to know what’s happening and when. To be brief, I like control.

Most of the time, that works for me. All of those things make me better at my job. All of these things make me a better freelancer. It can be a little rigid, it isn’t for everyone. But it works for me. Most of the time.

Sometimes, however… you just have to get out there. Sometimes, you have to throw plans to the wind and just… go with it.

Sometimes, you have to throw all your plans to the wind, and have an adventure. Unless you’re some kind of millionaire, odds are you can’t afford to go on a multi-continental adventure without some planning. I know I can’t! All my crazy vacations and trips are planned out within an inch of their lives. Obsessively. I run the numbers over and over again, and plan it out to the last detail.

But Charis, I can hear you saying, you just said to be spontaneous! I know I know I know. Let me explain.

I’m a firm believer in “making your own fun”. My Grandpa used to say that, and of all his many sayings, that’s one of my favorites. You’ve got to find your own adventures. Sometimes, that means something small- a new recipe, or taking the evening walk at the park instead of around the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s something more- surprise a friend, cancel your plans and go on a day trip. Sometimes it’s something that feels trivial- go ride a long with a friend while they run errands.

It’s about being open to new experiences. It’s about not living in such a way that you never try anything new. It’s about making relationships with people that help you look at the world with a new perspective. It’s about not being afraid to saying ‘yes’ to doing something that wasn’t in your plan, whatever the plan was. It’s about learning to surrender that control, just a little bit. Sometimes. Give yourself the freedom to deviate from the plan.

But finding your own adventure goes beyond the physical kind. Adventure is a state of mind. Anything is an adventure if you decide you’re going to enjoy it.

Maybe, instead of dreading something, we start to look at it with new eyes. Hate looking for items in the store? We’re on a quest! Hate sweeping your floors? The dirt is the villain of the day! Sure, you might feel a little silly, but we’ve already talked about that and decided it’s totally fine.

Put yourself in adventure mode. Switch things up. Let yourself be surprised a little bit.

Superhero action of the day: Do something out of your routine today! ESPECIALLY if you’re starting to feel hemmed in by things. Get out there and do something adventurous.

 

The Power of Rest

Happy Monday, superheroes!

I hope your Monday was amazing. I hope you were productive, and helpful, and strong.

I was not.

I’m struggling with the amount of freedom I’ve got this summer. I’m not used to having so much free time, and quite honestly, I’m not reacting to it as well as I had hoped. I have a ton of projects I thought I was going to work on, but so far, not a lot of progress. I’ve gone on some adventures, had a lot of fun… but I’m not getting enough done.

But you know what I AM doing? Taking a lot of naps. Spending time with my dog. Taking long walks. Working on THIS project. Spending time with friends and family. Reading books.

I’m not doing very well with my to do lists. But I have to keep reminding myself that for most of the last ten months, I worked 60-80 hours a week at three or four separate jobs. And that that kind of long term abuse (because that’s what it is, if we’re being totally honest) takes a toll. And now I have to pay up. I don’t have to like it. But I owe my body some time, and it is collecting.

So often, I think it is easy for us to forget the power of rest. We love to be busy so much it literally makes us sick. We hop from thing to thing, from job, to exercise, to social event. We don’t sleep enough. We don’t give our brains down time. We just grind and grind and hustle and hustle.

And sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes, you have to go back to bed with your dog. Sometimes your greatest accomplishment for the day can be cleaning out your email inbox and sending two important email replies.

This can’t be everyday. I’m bored already, and it has only been a month. Soon, my motivation will come back and I’ll get more done again. I’ll start getting serious about the upcoming work season, and all of my projects will start to sound interesting again. Hopefully I don’t drop anything out of my net while I’m resting, but rest is important.

When we go through something physically exhausting, we wake up the next day, or maybe two days later, and we can feel it. When we workout a lot, we get sore muscles. If we’re in an accident, we get bruises. If we have surgery, there’s pain from that.

A lot of times, when we go through something emotionally exhausting, we take a day or two- or longer- to get back on our feet. When we lose someone. When a relationship falls apart. When we get handed a big disappointment. We take some time. We rest.

But we don’t tend to do that with mental exhaustion. When we’re mentally exhausted, we grab another cup of coffee and buckle in. We berate ourselves for our brain fog and insist that we “don’t know what’s wrong” with ourselves. We push harder, and harder. We sacrifice sleep. We sacrifice down time. We give of ourselves until there is nothing left. And then we collapse, or explode, or lash out. We hurt the people who love us best. We get irritable. We let our lives get pushed to the side.

And all because we refuse to rest.

 

Superhero action of the day: are you taking the time you need to rest? Are you tired? Time to start thinking about how to get what you need.

A Walk- www. superheroliving.blog

A Walk

In 2013, I fell in love with a small, 12 week old black puppy. In the four years that Penelope and I have been living together, she has become my best friend, biggest confidante and almost constant companion. img_0555.jpg

Right before Christmas in 2014, Penelope and I moved into my current apartment. My apartment is small. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but it is pretty tiny- about 500 square feet. Not really enough room for 45 pounds of fur covered energy.

And so, Penelope and I walk. We walk two or three times a day, every day, no matter the weather. We walk when I’m exhausted, we walk when I can’t wait to get going with my day. We walk, quite literally, morning, afternoon and night.

Walking is a simple motion. Most of us learned it before we can remember. We do it without thinking. When we need something, we get up, and we walk. But the simplicity of the motion is what makes it so powerful.

Typically, when I workout, I want a workout so difficult that I can’t focus on anything else. I want it mind numbing. I want it to hurt, to stretch me, literally and metaphorically. I want to push my body past it’s limit. After a workout like that, I feel powerful, invigorated, full of promise and possibility.

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But when it’s really my brain that needs the workout, I go for a walk. When I need to think hard about something, I go for a walk. Heck, even when I need to memorize something… I often find myself going for a walk.

When Penelope and I started walking together so consistently, I started to notice some changes in both of us. First of all, her behavior completely changed. She doesn’t tear things up. She doesn’t get into my trash, and she doesn’t get onto my counters. Also, she became better and better with a leash. I guess I always thought dogs just knew how to walk on a leash. But I guess that’s not true- we definitely learned together. She sleeps more and better, she’s more calm in general- she’s just overall a more happy and healthy dog. That alone is enough of a reason for me, but I have seen some real benefits too.

I lost weight. A lot of weight. In the first 6 months we lived in this apartment, without really trying too terribly hard, I lost 30 pounds. And the vast majority of my exercise was walking. I became more confident. I’m cautious about walking at night, although I’ve never had a real problem when I’m out with Penelope. However, I am not afraid to go for a walk at night, and I like that part of myself.

IMG_1080Also, she forces me to get out of bed in the mornings. Sure, sometimes on Saturdays we go back to bed, but like it or not, I am usually up by about 7:30. I’m not a natural morning person, but I know that I’m most productive in the morning, so it’s nice to start my day with at least a little bit of activity. These days, our morning walk is usually about an hour- roughly 2.5 miles- and it is such a nice start to the day.

I also often use our walk as a time to catch up on phone calls or on books I’m listening to- or podcasts, although I’m mostly on books right now. I love to multi task and this is such an easy way to do it.

I am a lover of routine, and I like that about our walks too. In a life that sometimes feels frenetic and zooey, every day, I must carve out at least a few minutes to strap on Penelope’s leash and get outside. I don’t always love it. I don’t always want to do it. But she needs me. It’s our routine. And I always feel better afterwards, no matter what else is going on. IMG_1281

But I think best of all, walking every day with Penelope helps me to find perspective. The morning walk is a time to think through my day. What projects do I need to work on? Who do I need to be in touch with? What are my top three to dos? The afternoon walk breaks up the day: the major part of the work day is over. What do I still need to do for the evening? Did I get everything done I needed to finish up? The evening walk is the hardest- and the easiest one by far to skip, but I find myself in a better place to go to bed if I go ahead and take it. What does tomorrow look like? How am I feeling about today? And sometimes most importantly, can I make my step goal yet tonight?

 

Pictures in this post are various things I’ve seen while out walking! Enjoy!

 

Superhero Action of the Day: Carve out 20 minutes, and go for a walk. Try to make it a habit!

Balance- www.superheroliving.blog

Balance

There are so many different kinds of balance, aren’t there?

There’s physical balance, of course. The kind that allows us to walk, stand on one foot, or, with practice and focus, pull off some crazy cool yoga poses.

There’s mental balance- the kind that comes with clear, logical, sound thinking.

There’s emotional balance. The kind that keeps us from getting too involved in situations that are beyond our control. From diving too deep off the rabbit hole of emotions, good or bad, honestly.

There’s spiritual balance. This one comes deep within ourselves, from knowing that we’re living lives that are good, that are on track with our life’s purpose.

They’re all important. Balance of all kinds is so important.

Tonight, I’m struggling with balance of the food and exercise kind.

I am finally to the place in my journey where I love my body. I do. I’m proud of it. It works so hard. It is so strong. It is capable of some truly amazing things.

But I also… I want to improve it. I still have areas that I look in the mirror and wish were different. I long for a slimmer stomach, and more toned arms. A perky behind. Some days, it is hard to, well, balance, those two things. They are such opposite ideals.

One of my major hobbies is exercise. I love the endorphin rush. I love the feeling of doing something I couldn’t have done two weeks ago. I love the sweat and, yes, even the pain of it. I workout hard. My favorite form of exercise right now is boxing. In the winter, I like hot yoga, in the summer, I lean more towards weight training. I like to hike, and I am looking for ways to get more involved in water sports- paddle boarding and kayaking, specifically.

But you know what my other major hobby is? Food. You guys, I love, love, love to eat food. And my tastes are very broad. Sometimes, like when I’m on a Whole30, I eat great. And I really do like it! I love finding new recipes, cooking and eating healthy food, the pride of eating clean. And then there are days where I make a special trip to the store just to buy ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Balance, right?

But how do we rectify that? The truth is, I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. One day at a time, right? Sometimes, it feels like an endless cycle. Workout, eat good food, have an ice cream or pizza attack… workout again.

Does the ice cream contribute to my emotional and spiritual balance? Sometimes. Do I sometimes self medicate with it? Absolutely.

I’m not sure there is an answer. If there is, I don’t know it. What I know is that both working out and eating ice cream make me happy. And sometimes, that’s enough.

 

Superhero action of the day: how do you keep your life in balance? Where are the places you can improve that balance?