Saturday, July 21, 2012

One word...Gratitude

In my networking group the Lucky Ladies, we had a life coach join us on Thursday to help with goal mapping. It's interesting because throughout the morning hours leading to the meeting, I felt my thoughts becoming a bit unintentionally snubbish. A feeling similar to, "I know what we are going to do. I do SMART goal training with my clients in Power Fitness PDX all the time and have worked with life coaches before".  But when walking through the door, I pushed that feeling aside and made myself be open to any and every feeling I would experience in the 90 minutes.  The timing was perfect too becauseI had an epiphany the night before, and wanted to see if it would meld with what I was about to learn.

Have you ever mapped a goal before? Professionally or personally? It is one of the most rewarding and also challenging experiences if you truly dive into the "why".  Some of the professional goals I have aren't concurrent with my personal goals; they haven't been blending well and I've been trying to figure out how to keep my own internal peace.  With goals you want to think of the What, Why and your value system and as you create your action plan to make the goals happen.  It's easy for me to think "I want to create my own fitness studio" and "I want to create a line of workout DVD's", since they are goals that has popped into my head off and on over the last 15 years.  Some parts of them seem incredibly rewarding, but other aspects such as being the key command person, are daunting.  With contemplating my own goals, I wrote down everything I want to accomplish through July 2013.  Goals ranging from fitness writing, set childcare specific hours, bookkeeper for business,  to family vacation days every month.  One challenge of being an entrepreneur is your mind continues to think of new ideas, but when also a Mom who is the primary caretaker with a limited childcare budget, it can get tricky.  So I mapped, thought, dove deep into what I truly want out of my personal and professional life this next year.  And continued to think of one word- gratitude.

After goal mapping, we went through a Value Assessment. It is a list of 51 words ranging from Abundance and Accomplishment to Trust and Wisdom.  The objective is to see if your personal and professional value words meld together, creating a symbiotic balance to achieve your goals. For me, the word that continued to be my top was Gratitude.  And it resonated as the group shared what their words were, discussing means to find a blend of words to grow goals from.

I started writing on a sheet how and why I am grateful and the gratitude I have for my family, life, work, balance, etc.  The epiphany from the night before popped to the front of my brain like a movie on repeat...and it was this: 

Like many Moms, I have been struggling with how to blend my childcare hours with professional hours. This Summer we don't have childcare.  The kids are in a few camps, but mostly it's "Camp of Mom" while this Mom, moi, is working on a couple big business projects.  During this time I have been creating art projects, swim time, cannon ball challenges, play dates, adventure days, etc. I have also been fielding the sibling fights, Emerson tantrums of figuring out what being 4.5 years old is, and managing Shirey house domestic peace. I know some days my planned work time won't happen, which creates heavy anxiety. Because I put aside 60 minutes to work and write, doesn't mean Emerson and Makenzie have that same plan for their creative Lego time. When that happens, work is put aside, I play Legos and we go to the park.  We do this because I also don't want to miss a moment of partaking in their daily lives. 

I know, hard to have it both ways, but I have been struggling to figure out how I can. Having lost so much time of Emerson and Makenzie's fun daily life when both were sick, and knowing how fast time flies with them being little, I don't want the feeling 5 years from now aching for them to be little again.  I don't want to feel guilty that I didn't spend enough time playing Barbie's, listening to their creative songs, engaging in conversations when walking hand in hand, teaching them about health and living brightly. I already fee; this on some days when I am working, and I know I will feel like that deeper and deeper each year they age.  Every night as I look at their sweet sleeping faces, I remember their little rosebud mouths and chubby cheeks when tiny babies. 

My nontraditional schedule allows me a lot of playing with these two monkeys
Wednesday was a day when the work- balance wasn't in balance. No balance at all. The entire day while Makenzie was at camp, from 9:00-3:15, Emerson was flipping my 90/10 rule and was 90 % a pickle, and 10% fantastic.  When she was finally fine in the afternoon, it was after I had lost my windows for computer time to do bookkeeping and work.  Jack arrived home, I rushed to teach the evening TRX class. When I returned 90 minutes later, Jack and the girls were getting ready for a bike ride. Girls smiling, Jack asked me to run with him. I waivered with going upstairs to work for an hour, or run with my family. Running won and we set off to run to frozen yogurt.  Perfect Summer night, kids happy, and entire family is active.  We got to frozen yogurt and Jack and I took turns racing laps around the block, attempting to beat our times each lap.  The girls eating frozen yogurt while cheering us along. Emerson decided to join us for a couple laps.  I ran along side her, watching her strong body, determined face and visible joy. She said to me, "Mommy, I can do this. I am doing a sport with you.  It's like the See Jane Run race. I am fast like you."  Eyes welled with tears at how incredible she is. The words hit me again as if I was looking at a ginormous billboard spelling out, "YOU, be grateful and full of gratitude".  Earlier in the day my goal was to stay calm with E's meltdowns, get a couple work To Do's done, and feel good at day's end.  

Yet, at that moment, I felt incredibly grateful and full of gratitude.

Grateful I was given this opportunity to be in the moment and let go of everything but being with her running.
Grateful for a family that has so much fun together.  
Grateful for two daughters who only know how to feel strong, active, adventurous, eager for happiness, and full of love. 
Grateful for a husband who works hard and supports my goals and dreams in the health and fitness industry, encouraging me along the way to go for projects I initially thought were out of my reach.  
Grateful for the ability to feel OK with having less money, but more time with the kids. 
Grateful that my business has me working in the morning before anyone is awake and I get to appreciate the sunrise daily.
Grateful for a schedule that allows me to walk Makenzie to school daily.
Grateful for Jack and I emptying out ideas of what we "should" be doing, and creating what we want to be doing.
Grateful for laughter filled moments with friends as we laugh about everything and anything.
Grateful for my own parents and siblings who are close by and love my family as much as I do.
Grateful for the opportunity to do what I love daily in health and fitness, helping people reach outside of their comfort zone and owning their strength and even stronger bodies. 
Grateful to know I need to live in the Moment.
Grateful to have the feeling that if something doesn't get done for work because of a kiddo factor, it is OK and will be good because my kids will always win over work. 

Thus, when going over the values assessment at the Lucky Ladies meeting, the strongest word resonating with my gut was Gratitude.  Realizing that allowed me to throw out a couple old goals that I honestly, don't want.  Yep, I actually decided to toss a few that have traveled years with me, out the window. The DVD goal would pull me away from my family to much right now, and I realized wouldn't have me feel grateful, but most likely more stressed.  One of my new goals is to create quality mini videos similar to the fitness challenge I did.  Goal shift is acceptable because I am happy on various levels and immediately feel less stress.  I am trying to eliminate stresses, not create them, which is what some bigger professional goals would be at this moment. So I shared. I shared with the group how I am grateful.  I am grateful for some big professional goals that are coming to fruition, and for the grateful list I created to keep me focused to what is me.  As I shared, I felt lighter.  I felt excited. I felt joyous. I felt OK with throwing out a couple old goals.  Most of all I felt Grateful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


When I first had Makenzie, the breath was knocked out of me. Literally, it was, but figuratively too.  We rushed to UCLA after dropping off our taxes, were “tskked tssskked” by a delivery nurse and my Mother in Law, who were both there waiting for us at check in. Already in trouble yet I hadn’t even had my baby yet.  We were nervously rushing ...only to wait for the doctor and nurses, who were fighting over my care.  They were still fighting when I was sitting with needles in my spine for the epidural.  Ah, nothing like that sort of uncomfort with needles in your back.  And then, for whatever reason, my body decided to respond poorly to the epidural and it felt like elephants were walking on my chest. They were stomping away and I couldn’t breath, while feeling like a big gorilla waiting on the operating table.  Jack and my Mom weren’t allowed in the room due to the complications, and my nerves were heightened.  All I could think was, “Please get Makenzie out safely and then worry about me”. Gratefully the anaesthesiologist was able to work some magic to stabilize me, Jack was able to join me with Mom watching, and Makenzie was welcomed to the world on April 12th, 2004 at 5:51 pm.  When the nurse showed her to us, and Jack brought her over to meet me, my breath was taken away for the best reasons. The reasons of complete awe and intense gratitude.

Sisters - April 2009 Ages 1 & 5
Emerson’s delivery was comical, and almost a tell tale sign of her little personality.  I had been determined to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) but my body wasn’t on the same plan. The day before our back up C-Section date our doctor, Dr. Hamilton, Jack and I decided the C-Section was the safest option for my body and our little baby. The following day, Friday, January 25, 2008, would be Emerson's birth date.  5:00 am Friday morning Jack and I arrive on a freezing cold Winter day to Emanuel Hospital ... only to find out we were at the wrong hospital! Who goes to the wrong hospital to deliver their kiddo…well the Shirey’s and Dr. Hamilton all did! Emanuel was the hospital for our VBAC, since it was high risk, but we were delivering via C-Section.

Laughter ensues, all the Providence Portland nurses tease how this has never happened.  No stress, just laughs, and excitement.  We’re in the operating room and the team's started playing Bob Marley followed by Boys to Men. While splayed out being ready to have surgery begin, the music made me reminisce of Bishop O’Dowd High School dances. Jack and Dr. Hamilton are discussing my prenatal core routine since he was complimenting my abs as dissecting them, another random funny that was a great one for a pregnant Mama.  Within minutes, at 8:10 am, Emerson arrives and brought immediate joy and laughter.  Complete and utter sweet joy and jubulience.

Two different deliveries. Two very different daughters, requiring two very different patient levels.  Whew, patience.  People tell you that you need a lot of calm with your “patience voice” when you have children. However, nobody ever said the supply has to be endless, non-stop, and full of butterflies and candy coated kindness when it wants to sound like a fire breathing dragon.  This week has been a week with the fire breathing dinosaur eager to chomp on the butterflies and let loose. It has been a week repeating the mantra, “Keep calm and carry on”. It has also been a week that’s created dream like and blissful memories within the craziness. 

Emerson, Age 4.5, Lake Tahoe 7.14.12
Our daughters are different, very different.  The way they act, respond, express, digress, and encourage is wildly and wonderfully different.  That being said, I have to constantly remind myself of their unique ways of dealing with anything bothersome.  I love how different they are.  I admire them for being who they are without any pretense, and incredible pride.  When age 4.5 years Emerson is having meltdown after meltdown in levels neither Jack or I remember happening with Makenzie, we have to bite our tongues and calm E down in means requiring more pixie patience dust to add to the patience bucket.  And while the meltdowns were fewer and far between before, for whatever reason the past 6 weeks they have been intense when they happen, and unbreakable.  We've been figuring out what her triggers are, and I know I have to almost set my own clock every 90 minutes for Emerson to eat and drink her water in order to keep up her energy just like a puppy dog.

Here is the pickle...she is DELIGHTFUL when she is not mad.  Purely magic, funny, vibrant, and love filled. She fills my love tank to the brim with kisses, cuddles, laughs, sweet words, funny moments and time that I want to go on forever.   That is the 85-90% of the time, it truly is.  

Similar to the eating rule of 90/10 I tell my clients.  90 % of the time eat good clean food and 10-15% of the time you can enjoy the treats of life.  For Emerson, 90% of the time  
she is brilliantly clean and effortless love in true from.
10% of the time she makes me want to grab a bottle of wine, take a straw 
and drink the bottle in one sitting. 
Makenzie, age 8, Lake Tahoe 7.14.12
And while we are figuring Emerson at age 4.5, we are attempting to learn our first child's navigation in life.  She is a protector by nature, a talker, compassionate, a storyteller, silly, mature beyond years in some ways and also has the traditional first born traits.  With Emerson we worry about tantrums, with Makenzie we try to channel her back, word wise, so everyone has a turn to talk.  She has the best stories to tell, confidence to talk to anyone and everyone, and the ability to shift conversation and keep it alive.  But with that gift comes the challenge of when to reign it in.  With missing almost all of first grade and being around so many adults, her ability to converse with eye contact challenges many of today's teens.  It also means she is incredibly determined, with the words to support her desires, to get her "way" within the family. With her conversational skills come brilliant one liners that make a parent proud, but not when they are attempting to be stern in discipline.  It is a tricky line to walk, because confidence is what you want your children to have more than anything.  We want Makenzie to keep her confidence in who she is, while also respecting that other people have stories to tell and opinions about various events too.   

So I am learning as a parent, along with Jack, how to deal with each moment of challenge.  Different deliveries, very different daughters.  When I want to talk like a fire breathing dragon, I hold back and think of what I can learn out of the moment. Honestly, parenting is easier said than done as we all know.  What is it I can evolve from in this endless moment of screaming, hitting, yelling, hair pulling and tears?  Are these the moments prepping us for when they are teenagers? Emerson might punch a wall and Makenzie might talk back like a sailor? I hope not! I hope they will be perfect and delightful all the time...but they won't. Nor will I.  I will be the 90/10 rule myself.  I know that in the 10% of time, the time when I want to slam the door with frustration and lace up to pound the pavement for a solo run, I am a great parent to my two very dynamic daughters.  With that, I know it will all be OK... 90% of the time. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!  What a great day in America. So much fun, full of fireworks, laughter, parades, showing support and camaraderie for living in an incredible country.  Guess what though? I have been thinking lately about how incredible it is to also be independent of negative body image and self talk.  There have been numerous instances the past weeks allowing me to free myself of certain barriers holding me back... for whatever reasons; many that I didn't even realize still existed. Be independent of those barriers my friends, be independent!

Throughout the past 14 days I have put on a special challenge for anyone needing a push and jump start in their health and fitness. The Challenge came to be because of some boot campers coming to class, but feeling in a rut, and from hearing others share the same sentiments. So I decided I'd put a Challenge together to challenge myself to get out of my rut, to encourage people to feel clean from the inside out. I had no idea along the way while doing the videos I would gain more body confidence and more independence of certain ideals holding me back.

When I was 14-24 I suffered an eating disorder, but body image issues began when I was in elementary school.  I remember writing in an old Ramona Quimby journal at age 10 that my wish for my birthday was to lose 10 pounds.  At age 10 I thought that!  I did sports and was active, but always felt the squat girl in school.  In Junior High I played soccer, swim team, had fun with friends but the little voice was in the back of my brain saying I was to big for what I was "supposed to be". Gradually the eating disorder started in 8th grade.  While dormant off and on throughout my teens, it would leap out to bite me in the arse whenever there were stressful situations. Ironically having an eating disorder is what helped me decide to get into the field of health and fitness in High School.  I had a desire to help other girls develop their self-esteem through athletics. I gained more and more confidence each month as I learned about my own strengths within.  But there would be days I would look at myself in the mirror and think of Jyo B. calling me a short fat girl my freshman year. I was a whopping 97 pounds.  Incredible how the nasty comments by someone when young can stick with you; their hurt full words do sting like a bee. But you can free yourself from their poisonous sting with lots of miles and mental  coaching.

E Riding Proudly on 4th of July
The stinging sensation that crawls under your skin with every negative comment, either from someone else or from your inner voices, is horrid.  I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy. It breaks your soul into pieces, and picking up the mess of the pieces is a long process.  A very long process that can be done, it truly can.  It can happen with time, therapy, confidence, courage and believing in yourself.  Fortunate for me, I have had an incredibly supportive family and got married to the most supportive husband a girl could ask for. Both of whom helped me discover and evolve the inner strengths I had, while I was helping other women and men do the same.

Rush forward to June 2012.  I have been in the health and fitness industry since I was 20, learning so much each class I teach.  I want to always instill body confidence in every client, regardless of what size the participant is.  One of the goals is for my clients is to leave the notions at the door of what they "should" look like, where they were size wise as a collegiate athlete, and focus with where they are NOW  There is no shortage of time to make themselves the healthiest and strongest they have ever been, but they have to start with where their body is currently.  You can't go back in time, but only can move forward and create the life you want to live.  Naturally with that growth comes an inner strength and courage to accept and love their bodies. To conquer the demons of "I can't", "I hate my belly", "I wish my back was strong" is hard work. It is change and getting strong through push ups, pull ups, sprints, high jumps. With each repetition  of the exercises, there are kind words of support to themselves.  Repeating, "This year will be my best yet.  I CAN DO THIS! I will talk to myself the way I would my children and my best friend."  Yes, it can sound a bit silly at first but it works.  Repetition works.

HAPPY & Independent Mama and E
What also works is being a role model to those around you, the little ones who look up to you each day.  For me it is our  little girls who you have a desire to raise to strong young women proud of their bodies, proud of their ability to run far and play hard.  To know my daughters only know of a scale for stepping on it proudly to see how "big" they are growing is significant to me, verses stepping on a scale to see how much they weigh.  Watching them ask to do pull ups on the bar in our kitchen warms my heart.  Hearing them ask to go for bike rides and admire the muscles in their legs while cycling melts me.  Listening to them sing loudly as they practice cartwheels repeatedly is music to my ears.  Little bubbles of joy let out each time I see them compliment themselves and their strengths. 

Thus, repetition of kindness, support and giving compliments to yourself are great ways to improve your self esteem. It helps you gain more independence of the negative thoughts that seem to hinder around.  When filming the Challenge videos, I have laughed at the funny angles of my body.  I've noticed phrases I repeat to much and that my core is strong but can use more strengthening. But with noticing both, I realized don't feel bad for who I am and what my body looks like. I see how encouraging I am towards those I film the videos for.  I have noticed that while I may be short and a mesomorph, my back muscles pop out from doing thousands of push ups and pull ups.  While watching the videos, I became truly aware of the little amount of time it's been post surgeries to now watching my body comfortably jump all over the camera motivating others to do the same.  I notice my interactions with my youngest daughter when she pops into filming; how easy and happy she is playing.  While I have learned certain angles are better than others, I feel good that doing the videos share and show you can be a real Mom, an athlete, raise happy little kids, juggle work while making health, fitness and yourself a priority in life.  I also notice that it shows I am HAPPY. The happiness and confidence comes across on camera.  That is the best gift I have given myself, my kids, my friends, and clients. 

While I am naturally an optimistic and happy person, the happiness on camera that shows is a byproduct from gaining independence of the old negative body image thoughts.  Sure, I would love to look like Dara Torres but I never will and I am perfectly fine with that.  I can admire her incredible strength and the hours put in to developing those muscles. I am the one and only ME, and you are the one and only YOU.  Love your body...short, tall, apple, pear, with extra love on your hips or extra love on your tummy.  Love your body as it changes and grows, getting stronger and more solid each workout.  Thank your body for allowing you to push through each day, with every activity  you do.  Enjoy your body as it becomes the healthiest yet.  

I ask independent of negative thoughts from this 4th of July on. Look at your ONE body and love it.  If you have little elements you want to change- do sports and activities that make you feel good.  Open up to embrace your COURAGE!!  Look at what you have done with life, who you are, and what you want to become.  YOU can become anything and do anything at any age. Right now, I am going to become a sweaty mess and embrace my strong legs and back while doing so in the gym.

Happy Independence Day!!

xoxoxo Erin

* Take a moment to read the post on Scales. Also a byproduct of the Challenge, and helping others.  Put my weight out there without thinking twice.  *