30 Day Challenge – The Results

At the beginning of June, I shared that I was embarking on a challenge to try as many new things as I could over the next 30 days, in order to break out of routine and see what kinds of opportunities popped up. Well, now I’m back to share the results!

I have to admit that I was very gung-ho at the beginning of the month, changing up or trying all kinds of things – big and little. As June wore on, I focused on it less and less. I still think I reaped a lot of benefits, some of them rather suprising.

Here are a few of the highlights:

June 1: I had a training class in the morning but we got out early. Instead of going home or running errands, I decided to use my unexpected free time to get a pedicure. I haven’t had a “real” pedicure in years. I usually prefer to save the money and just paint my nails myself. But, this is about doing new things so, to the salon I went. It was actually really nice and very relaxing. I splurged to have her do the extra spa treatment with the hot stones, and to also paint a design. Turned out really cool and it was a nice respit in the middle of the afternoon.

June 3: Sundays in the summer mean going to the lake and playing volleyball. This particular Sunday there was a lot of traffic along our normal route, so we went a different way. This alternate route ended up taking us through the neighborhood CJ lived in when we started dating. The girls have never been there so as we drove through, we pointed out places and told them stories. We then drove around the lake from the opposite side that we normally do and they saw all the big beautiful lake homes. It was a really nice family drive.

When we got there, we picked out a spot on the beach to set up that was over further than our usual. It was secluded and kind of quiet, which was great. We had it all to ourselves until a church group came in and did a baptism in the lake! Had we sat where we normally do, we never would have seen that. A day full of surprises all around!

June 8: CJ and I had a date night on a river boat! It’s something we did when we were dating but hadn’t been on one in years. This particular cruise featured a Beatles cover band. It was hot but we had a lovely time crusing along the river, with spectacular views of downtown Omaha, while listening to some good music. We even ran in to a couple people we knew!

June 10: The girls came down in the morning and announced they were going to have a “Flavored Water Stand” outside and sell cups of water for $.50 each that people could add their own flavoring to. They got to work making signs and pulling everything together. I figured it was just a game and didn’t think much of it. But then after lunch, they wanted to go out and set it up! They asked me if they could and I thought of a million reasons to say no:

  • There wouldn’t be a good ROI (in other words no one would buy anything and then I’d have 2 sad girls on my hands)
  • There wasn’t enough time ( I would have to sit out with them and I had other things to do)
  • The conditions weren’t right (it was too hot to sit outside in the blazing sun)
  • They wouldn’t see it through and I’d end up doing all the work
  • The quality would be poor (and customers would be upset)

But then I looked at my girls who had put all this energy in to creating their water stand – they had signs to post around the neighborhood, colored cups ready, flavoring lined up, and a stand built to put it on. Even though I had reasons why it might not work, there was also a chance it would – and valuable lessons to learn either way. So I said yes.

The result? They stayed out there for 45 minutes and made $12! I asked my oldest what her goal was and she said $3. So she far exceeded her goal and learned a lot (lesson #1: don’t go in to business with your 5 year old sister who lasted 2 whole minutes before going back inside). In the end it was fun for them (and yes I’ll admit, fun for me), taught them some good lessons in business and they made a few bucks too. Glad I opened my mind to something new!

June 12 – 13: It was easy to find new things to do these 2 days because I was out of town for work. We went to Jersey City. The first night we got there we went in to Manhattan to see a show on Broadway. This in and of itself isn’t new for me as I saw a bunch of them back when I lived there. However, I was with a new group of gals who had never been themselves so experiencing it through their eyes was what made it fun. We ate Junior’s cheesecake then headed over to watch Denzel Washington perform in “The Iceman Cometh”. It was a good show, but a long one. We were all tired and got a little bored actually, but it was fun.

The next night we had drinks on a rooftop bar that looks out over the city, and then went to Grove Street for dinner, followed by karaoke. I won’t get in to all the details (what happens at O’Hara’s stays at O’Hara’s) but let’s just say when you combine lots of alcohol with karaoke, it gets pretty interesting.

We also had an run in with some Jersey cops. We weren’t sure where to go at one point. I saw a group of police officers standing on a corner so I walked over and asked for directions. They were very nice and eager to help. They even took a selfie with us! Another fun first!

June 22: played in a volleyball tournament that went for almost 5 hours. I haven’t done a tournament in years because they’re on the weekends and I don’t like to have that much weekend time away from the girls. But this one was Thursday night, during when we normally play. We played well and made it to the final game. In the end, we lost and took 2nd place but it was a fun night, great workout, and awesome new experience.

June 24: the girls and I went to the beach by ourselves because CJ was sick. We ventured over to a side of the beach we don’t usually go to and had all kinds of fun. Then on the way home, instead of going straight there, we made a detour to stop at a playground. Isabella had to borrow my shirt because she didn’t want to be out in just her swimsuit. Fortunately I had a sleeveless dress that I was using as a cover up so I wore that. She told me I looked naked because my shoulders were bare. After playing, we ran to the drive thru and apparently I did look naked because the high school kid in the drive thru was all stutters and then called a friend over and they were both ogling me. They even forgot to give me my drink! I just laughed about it.

June 30: I spent the last week of the month sick with a bad cold. However, on the last day of the month, we made it over to Council Bluffs for the annual Pride Parade. We have marched in the parade before, 2 years ago. The girls were super excited and they decorated the little car Cora was going to ride in. They also made litte notes to hand out that said, “Happy Pride Parade Day!”

Cora handed out the notes, along with candy, as we marched in the parade and Isabella pushed her. They were so proud and everyone thought the notes were very sweet.

We had a lot of fun and it was a great chance to introduce the girls to something that’s full of love and teaches acceptance. They are already talking about doing it again next year!

And that was the end of the month! Looking back, it was a very full and busy month, with lots of new experiences. Some big, some small, but all valuable in their own way. While you can’t always travel to mix things up, you can find simple things to do every day. The results may surprise you!!

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30 Day Challenge

I can be a creature of habit. I find something that works and I stick with it. Last week I talked about my “spot” in the gym locker room where I get ready and how much it annoys me when someone messes with it.

I also have a spot in the garage.

See, I’ve parked in this spot nearly everyday for 5 years. Its the perfect spot for me.

It’s in the parking garage so it’s protected. Its close to the entrance that leads to the gym. It’s on the end of the row so I can park far over and still have room to load my bags in the passenger side. I always pull through so it’s easier when I leave at night.

Yet there are days when I pull in to the garage, turn the corner and see another car there. It upsets me. It angers me.

Don’t move my cheese!!

One day a guy pulled in to that spot right in front of me! I was so angry I glared as I was turning my car in to the spot behind him and I hit the pillar.

Guess I showed him.

The other day I was watching a video by Jenny Evans, a motivational speaker and author. In it she talked about breaking out of habits and routines in order to get creative juices flowing. At the end, she offered up a challenge: for the next 30 days, find as many opportunities as possible to try something new or do something different. It could be taking a different route to work or eating at a new restaurant or even traveling some place you’re never been. Heck it could be as simple as using a bathroom on a different floor. No matter how big or small, any change in habit or routine can lead to growth. So I’m trying it for the month of June.

Today, on June 1st, I treated myself to a pedicure. Something I haven’t done in years. I took a different way home too.

And biggest of all? I parked in a different place this morning.

That’s right. I parked one stall over from the usual. It may seem small and insignificant to some but it was big for me. Especially because I was doing it on my own and not because I was forced to.

I’m excited to see what other changes come and how the overall challenge will impact me. I plan to keep a journal so I can record my experiences and note feelings that coincide. I’ll share the results here!

What can you do to break out of old habits?

Night Crawler

There are many unspoken rules in life. Don’t interrupt people when they’re talking. Don’t ask a women if she’s pregnant when you’re not sure. Always answer the question, “Does this make me look fat?” by saying no.

There are also certain rules of etiquette that people just know. Especially when it comes to the gym.

Pick up after yourself.

Wipe down the equipment.

Use ear buds when listening to music.

Don’t count your reps out loud.

Don’t be a loud breather.

Did I mention pick up after yourself?

To me that’s the easiest and most basic of them all. When you get something out, put it away. Weights. Mats. Your ego. Whatever.

The gym I go to is at work. It’s an awesome perk we have and I feel very lucky that I have a convenient and cheap place to get a workout in. It’s also nice that they teach fitness classes in our gym, have personal trainers available, and have all the latest equipment. I’m spoiled and really have nothing to complain about.

Well, maybe one thing.

I arrive at the gym every morning around 5:30 am. Lately there has been a lot of stuff lying around or left behind. Monday I came in and found this waiting for me in the locker room.

Someone’s wet and gross dirty towel lying on the table. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve found something left behind on my, er, this table.

[Sidenote: I’ve been working out and showering here nearly every morning for the last 5 years. I always use this table. Everyone knows that’s my spot and they all stay clear of it in the mornings. Kind of a sign of respect. I’m a creature of habit that way. When I establish something that works for me, I want to keep it. If someone else sets up camp there it just throws me all off but more on that in a later post.]

Anyway, I head out to the gym and in to the fitness room to find this:

3 pieces of equipment left out on the floor of the room. Perhaps this person was so wiped out after their workout that they simply had no energy left to put away the box and Bosu ball. Or maybe they tried to jump on that tall box and fell, hurting themselves so bad that they just couldn’t clean up.

Let’s fast forward through the week. Here is what I found in the locker room on Tuesday.

Towel is still there and now with the addition of a pair of socks. There are 2 problems here.

1. There are smelly used socks on my, er, the table. Next to the spot where I will be getting dressed and ready.

2. The fact that the towel is still there means that the cleaning lady left it behind. Which then leads me to wonder what else she didn’t clean in there. Its not like this is someone’s personal towel from home and she didn’t want to disturb it. Its clearly a gym towel because it’s white and cheap.

Sticking with the locker room, here’s Wednesday.

Dirty towel on the table? Yup.

Smelly socks? Check.

Oh whats this? A new addition! A second towel and on the floor!!

Thursday:

A water bottle! Also, items are now starting to migrate to my, er, this side of the table. Not a good trend.

The towel has now moved to the bench. Was this the sloppy persons doing or the cleaning lady. And again I wonder, if the cleaning lady can move it here, why can’t she move it to the hamper?

Oh, and what’s this? A half empty (or is it half full?) glass of water on the counter.

And finally, Friday.

Everything’s back on my, uh, the table and still on my side. This is getting ridiculous.

The gym was no better. Here’s what I walked in to each day of the week. I found it like this…

And this.

Oh, and this.

Here’s another one.

After weeks of this nonsense we have given the person who leaves stuff out in the gym a nickname – The Night Crawler. Why? Because obviously this person works out at night. And only a wormy sort of person wouldn’t pick up after themselves.

Let’s take a minute to psychoanalyze this person. First of all I think Night Crawler and Sloppy Locker Room Lady (SLRL) are the same person. Looking at the size of the weights left out (15 lb. steel bell, 15 lb. dumbbells, a light barbell) Night Crawler is likely a woman (or a really weak dude….but I’m going with a chick). My guess is a single woman who has the time and availability to exercise at night. Probably a millennial who either still lives at home with her parents or has a really messy apartment. Also likely is that Night Crawler has never belonged to another gym because I doubt other gyms that are staffed 24×7 would put up with this nonsense.

Is it stereotyping too much to predict Night Crawler is named Ella or Madison or something like that?

So now what? I could write an aggressive note on the mirror (“Pick up your stuff!”). Put a nice sign up (“Please be considerate of others and put away all equipment.”). I could come up with a fun poem (“Roses are red, violets are blue. If you can get it out, you can put it away too!”). I actually thought about reaching out to security and asking them to check the security camera recordings.

Or I could just deal. I don’t deal well when it comes to others being rude and disrespectful. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. But it’s also not worth losing my serenity over.

So, I’ll continue to ignore and get ready around the crap left in the locker room, and put away the equipment left out in the gym. And I’ll hope that Ella or Madison learns the unspoken rules of life and the gym.

Because if I should run in to her someday and ask if this outfit makes me look fat, she better say no.

The Box

I’m going to share a secret with you. Something that’s been haunting me for 5 years.

But first, let me tell you about last week.

I spent 2 days in a leadership class. In that class we talked about our saboteurs and our guardians. A saboteur is that negative voice in your head. The one that tells me I can’t do things or I’m not good enough or I might as well not try because I’ll fail anyway. The saboteur keeps me from sharing ideas at work because they might be stupid. Or from swimming because I could drown. Or from singing karaoke because people might laugh at me.

The guardian, on the other hand, is the all knowing voice that guides you, protects you and says loving thing to you no matter what. The voice that counters the saboteur and shuts it up. My guardian is a tiger. A strong, sleek, beautiful, warm, regal tiger. I call her Tigra.

And now for that secret.

I’m afraid to jump on the 2nd level box in the gym.

It all started when I returned to work from maternity leave with Cora, back in 2013. One of my first days in the gym, my trainer told me to jump on the box. No big deal, I used to do it all the time. So I jumped. And fell off. I tried again. And hit my shin.

That was it. At that point my mind said, “We are never doing this again” and it shut down. I tried to make myself do it but to no avail. I would bend my knees as if to jump but it was like my feet were nailed down. One day my trainer and I stood there for almost an hour trying to do it, staring at that damn box and no matter what he said or did, my mind wouldn’t let my body move.

My saboteur was in full control.

You’re going to fall again.

Do you want to hurt yourself?

It’s too high.

You can’t do it.

When you miss everyone will laugh at you.

You’re too old for this.

Just go get the small box. That’s s all you can do.

And on and on.

It bothers me. I pretend it doesn’t but it does. I want to conquer that box. I hate that it has control over me. Every day I walk by that box and it mocks me. Or when I see another woman jump on it with ease it’s like a knife to my gut. The competitor in me comes out and thinks, “How come she can do it and I can’t? ”

Well the truth is, I can. I just won’t let myself.

That all ends now. I’ve decided my next goal in the gym is to beat that f*ing box. I am going to take a step bench and raise it a little higher every day until I have my confidence back.

I will succeed.

Goodbye saboteur. Tigra is winning this battle.

Guess Who’s Back?

Hard to believe but it’s been 4 years since I last wrote an entry on this blog. At the time I was burned out, tired of writing, and my heart wasn’t in it. It felt forced. If we’re being honest, I kind of felt that way about life in general too. I had 2 little kids, a busy job, a new house, and didn’t feel like I had anything “together”. Everything felt frantic and unorganized and crazy. I was overwhelmed.

So I stopped writing. It was a hard decision made easier over time. Every time I’d think about the blog I’d examine my life and it re-affirmed my decision to stop. I don’t have enough time. There’s nothing interesting to write about. No one cares what’s going on in my life.

And so it goes.

However I kept paying to renew the domain name and keep the site up year after year. Whenever I’d see a payment processed I’d cringe a little and tell myself I should just take it down. But I never did. Nostalgia perhaps? Sure. Thoughts that one day I’d write again? Probably. Lazy? Absolutely!

Recently though I’ve felt the itch again. 2018 feels like a year of renewal to me. A renewal of myself and getting back to feeling good and doing things I enjoy. For so long it felt like my own life was put on hold in favor of what the kids needed (Yes, I know thats called being a parent). I don’t feel that way anymore. I bought season tickets to the Broadway Series that comes through town because I love live theater. I’m going to several concerts this year because I also love live music and hate that I’ve missed so many amazing artists over the last couple years. I’m traveling a lot more (mostly for work) and enjoy every minute of visiting other cities.

I’m ready for more….more adventure…more fun…more laughter…just more!

I’m also doing more to take care of myself. One thing that’s stayed constant is my workout regime. That is something I’ll never give up. I work out at 5:30 am every weekday morning and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I also still play volleyball 1 to 2 nights a week and love it! However, my eating habits had gone way downhill. I was yo-yo dieting with no success. Eating all kinds of amazing tasting junk food and constantly feeling guilty. Then wondering why the scale wouldn’t go down. I was actually at my heaviest weight not including pregnancy/post-pregnancy. My confidence was way down and I felt icky. So I finally sucked it up, kicked myself in the ass and did the Whole30 program for the month of January. It was exactly what I needed. I feel great and like I’ve really gained my power back. I now make conscious decisions about what I put in my body and only eat what will nourish me and provide the best fuel. I lost 8 lbs. but had other major “non-scale victories” and am still going (I’ll do a separate post on Whole30 at some point).

Part of the Whole30 program is to keep a journal everyday of what you ate, how you feel, and your non-scale victories. I used to journal on a pretty regular basis, but like everything else, that went out the window. Bringing it back as part of the program was great and it reinvigorated my need for creative writing. I am an inherently creative person but have had no outlet for it in recent years. The itch was coming back. So I bought myself a new journal, some colorful pens and committed to journaling at least once every week. Nothing too crazy, no rules around it – just write once a week. So far I’ve been journaling an average of 3 – 4 times a week and loving it.

That got me thinking, where else can I do more writing?

I was talking to a friend, sharing another story of some bizarre crazy thing that happened in my life and he said “You should really write this stuff down!”

The lightbulb went off.

I used to write this stuff down and it was fun! Why not do it again? I pulled up the blog and read through the old entries and all those memories came flooding back and I realized this wasn’t an accident. This was the universes way of nudging me in the right direction.

So, here we are.

A lot has changed in 4 years but I won’t get in to those details now. Look for some upcoming entries with updates on the family, my life, and work.

Couple promises:

  • I will keep this blog light-hearted. My writing tends to err on the funny or sarcastic side. That’s just who I am so why force myself to be something else?
  • Some of my most popular entries were about work (Annexed, $#*! My British Friend Says). My job has changed – I’m in a different position, in a different building, with a whole new team. But we still have a lot of fun and I’ll share what I can out here.
  • I don’t know how often I’ll be able to write so I’m not putting any pressure on myself to do X number of entries a week. But I’ll do what I can.

So that’s it. I’m back and excited to pick up where I left off. Care to join me?