Moving With Kids

My family has moved several times, a few times locally within our original 30-mile radius in Northern New York, and once to Ohio. Before the move to Ohio, I was extremely stressed about the impact the move would have on my children and I couldn’t find much in the way of evidence one way or the other as to what the effects would be, especially real life accounts of having done it. We had a happy family and I wanted to keep it that way. The kids were all still rather young, all but one being school-age, so the idea of having them all leaving their friends and family and transitioning to a new everything was scary. I knew we could handle it and make it through, and that many families move across the country or across the world and fare just fine, but the fear was still there. At the time, we were looking to secure a better financial situation, which required a higher salary for my husband, and since he’s in a narrow field, seemed to require moving. Nothing was available locally at that time. I was excited about the idea of moving, since I loved new adventures. I really didn’t have much hesitation personally, only feared how it would affect the kids. I thought we would be close enough to see our families and make regular visits, which minimized any sadness about leaving. I had also researched the area we were moving to and saw that it offered just about everything a person could want; every store, restaurant, activity, and so on.

When I look back at our actual move, I feel bad, since I wasn’t nearly as emotional about leaving as some would have thought. I was excited. I was sad to be leaving my family, but it didn’t really hit me until a little later, so don’t think I even shed one tear. But now, when I think back to that day and how hard it must have been for my kids, it breaks my heart. They had friends, our family, and a good life in our then hometown. But, we did leave and set out on the road for our new life in Ohio. We ended up renting a home for about a year, since we were still paying our mortgage for the home we left in NY. I remember the first night there, my youngest son cried and said he wanted to go back to the white house…our NY home (which was white). Poor little guy. He was two then. The other four kids seemed okay that night. We all slept on the floor of our master bedroom, since our furniture had not yet arrived. The only thing I remember specifically about the next day is that one of our cats had gone missing, likely wandered off and couldn’t find her way back in the unfamiliar territory. That wasn’t the best start to our new adventure, but it did get better.

We arrived on August 15th, and a day or two later the moving trucks showed up with all of our belongings and we officially moved in. The kids started school shorty thereafter and things went relatively well. We didn’t have any major breakdowns or battles, but we did have tears here and there from the kids, and even I began to feel a loss about a month or two in. The first month or so was great for me. I loved our new hometown in Ohio. We all did. We loved exploring our new stomping ground and I quickly learned my way around. There was so much to do, our neighborhood was gorgeous, and the newness was exciting. The kids were acclimating to school, my husband loved his new job, and I was busy getting the house styled and making it feel like home. Things were good. But, like I said, I began to feel a loss, I missed my family, my connections, and with no one around to assist here and there, having to handle the move, new schools, real estate issues, and more, the workload of this new place seemed to be much heavier than that of NY, not to mention that I carried a lot of guilt around day in and day out for making my kids go through this transition.

This story could be so very long, since we lived in Ohio for six years, had many great experiences, likely enough for a book, but I’m really trying to speak to the experience of moving with kids, so I’ll stick to a rather quick overview. I’ve touched on the initial aspects of our move, but want to hit on the middle, the meat, the eventual “normal” we achieved while in Ohio, since if you’re contemplating moving, that’s what you need to know. How will it work? Will we survive with our mental health? Will my kids hate me forever? Well, in my experience, things will be just fine, but it will take several months or more to really settle in and to allow the kids to heal from being pulled from their old connections. As a parent, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel completely okay with having pulled them away, or ever not wonder what it would have been like had we stayed put their entire childhood, but I realize that good came from our move, lots of good, so all I can do is know that we all grew from the experience. My husband got experience he may not have had the opportunity to get in NY, and the kids and I also had experiences that left positive marks on us. So, all in all, I count the move a positive, but realize that it wasn’t as much of a necessity as I thought at the time, and that we could have made it work in NY. Sometimes, financial gain isn’t enough to make drastic changes, and isn’t even as much of a gain as it seems. In our experience, it wasn’t. We made more money, but things also cost more, there was more to spend money on, and we also had no family or friends to lend a hand when we needed it.

It probably sounds like I’m not really in favor of moving with kids, and to be completely honest, knowing what I know now, having lived it, I think I would make a different decision. I wouldn’t change our life, and what we’ve done, not at this point, since it’s made us all who we are, but if I were making the decision now, I probably would not make the same choice. What’s funny is that a large part of that realization came from actually doing it, so as confusing as that is, the move made me realize that it wasn’t what we needed, despite how great it was at times. I honestly loved it in Ohio, still love that area of Ohio, but ultimately decided to move back to NY in 2018. I simply thought it was healthier to be near family. So yes, I tore the kids away from their comfort zone once, then did it again. I could cry writing about it. But, I always made decisions with everyone’s well-being at the center. I truly thought it was better for all of us to be back near our family. I knew it was better for me. I remember thinking that if we stayed in Ohio, our kids would all eventually move away and we would then be far from them and also far from our other family members. We had some friends and great neighbors in Ohio, but could anything really compete with family? In my mind, the answer was no. There’s something wonderful about knowing I can see any one of my family members, barring those that live away, any day I want to. It’s comforting.

I jumped ahead a little, so want to go into a little more detail about our time in Ohio. After all, we lived there for six years. A lot happened. The kids all had great friends, were very active in school activities, and life was buzzing. I have so many great memories from that time, like cross country and gymnastic meets, holiday parties with neighbors, and outdoor fun. Life was good in Ohio. The only thing missing was our families. We tossed around the idea of moving back to NY several times, the discussions always prompted by me. A couple times per year we would discuss it, usually resulting in us realizing that what we gained in Ohio was too much to give up and move. The kids were too involved and connected to move. Nonetheless, the thought wouldn’t leave me. The thought of how awful it was of me to move for a mere salary increase that really wasn’t even that drastic. I mean, was life really all about money? Did I choose money over family? Really, I did. But, I also chose it for my kids, feeling like it was the only way to make it with the size family we had.

Ultimately, after many hours of discussion, we did decided to return to NY. It was probably the most difficult decision I have ever made, but we did it. We decided to settle in the town 20 minutes away from where we initially moved, since we had family members there and the town had more to offer. The kids took the announcement better than expected, knowing we had thrown the idea around many times, but they still struggled. The worst day of the whole move was the day the friends of our twins said goodbye. They had stayed the night and the next morning, sobbing and embracing, said their goodbyes. I was crying, they were crying, and I had a deep sorrowful feeling. Again, it was a feeling of worry about whether what we were doing was right. At that moment, it didn’t feel right. It just felt sad.

It was just after Christmas, and we set out for NY right around New Years day. The trip was awful, with my son, who was following me in his car, going off the road in a whiteout at one point, then driving about 30 mph the rest of the trip. When we finally arrived at my mother’s house, we were exhausted by not only the length of the trip, but also the stress of it. For the first week, I debated going back. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be in NY. I mean, when I left there was a part of me that left because I really didn’t like the area. It didn’t help that it was January, quite literally the coldest grayest month of the year. So I cried and fussed about it, talked to my kids about it, but we ended up staying. The kids started school shortly after arriving, my husband arrived a few weeks later, and we started house hunting.

During our search, we stayed with my mom and stepdad for a short time, then rented a cute little house for about four months. It wasn’t long and we were able to move into our permanent home on a quiet dead-end street in town. It was July. Our new home was a fixer-upper, which I think was a good distraction and a chance to make it really feel like ours. During the first six months of living in NY, the kids made some friends, started becoming active in sports and other activities, and we saw family regularly. It took a while for the kids to form close friendships, but they eventually did, and they also came to love our new hometown. For the sake of comparison, our new hometown was very small, whereas our Ohio town was large and bustling, being a suburb of Akron. Our new hometown is much more rural, with lots of character, four colleges within 20 minutes, and outdoor spaces for miles. Some may consider it boring or outdated, and maybe I would have at one time too, but I’ve come to a new appreciation for this place we call home. Once here, I decided I would choose to love this place and I would only speak highly of it. Oh sure, just like any town, there are negative aspects, but all in all, this town is a quintessential small town. I love it! I love that we’re close to the mountains, able to take a short trip for an amazing hike, a relaxing kayak, or a walk through the other lovely small towns around. There’s something to be said for small towns, the slower pace, and relaxed way of life. It’s what my heart was longing for, along with the ability to see all the people that matter to me, and to make memories with them whenever I want. I now can walk to my mother’s house, can walk all over this small town easily and safely, and see familiar faces everywhere I go. If I crave more shopping, I only have to drive 90 minutes to make it happen. I’ve found that if I look for the good in this place, it’s all over. I didn’t have to go far away to get what I needed. I wouldn’t change what we’ve done, since as I said before, it’s made us who we are, but I would encourage someone else grappling with a similar decision to think harder about it and to see if changing their outlook could actually remedy the situation they’re in. Moving with kids is doable, and can work, but it does have it’s drawbacks. If you have to do it, you have to do it. I get it. I felt we had to at the time. Military families have to do it all the time, and that’s a sacrifice they have to make, and many kids from those families learn to love it and choose to do the same. But, in my honest opinion, after having done it, rather successfully at that, I would recommend only doing so if you truly have to. It’s brutal and I can’t see how there isn’t some kind of damage that occurs at some level. Yes, your kids learn resilience and gain a certain kind of strength, but they also suffer unnecessary loss at a very young age. They lose years of memories with grandparents and cousins. They lose the stability of staying in the same house, the same school, and the same community. Personally, as the parent, I gained a sense of guilt in causing these losses. That said, I also at times felt I allowed them lessons and experiences they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Maybe it seems like the good equals the bad, but I don’t think it does. Again, this is my opinion based off of my experience. Had I changed my mindset years ago, I could have saved the losses and found ways to make the rest happen here. I don’t count it as a failure, but a lesson. It’s a lesson on what’s really important. To me, that’s family and relationships. Not everyone has that same perspective or even has a choice in this matter, so I know this is irrelevant for those people. I also know that you can still remain close to family while living away. Some people do this very well. For me, it’s not enough. I want to to be near them and I want to interact with my family regularly and in person if possible. To each their own.

Maybe you’ve never moved away, but always longed to. Maybe you plan to some day. Or, maybe you love where you live and would never leave. One of the great things about life is having the choice to make these decisions, and the answer is different for everyone. If you’re contemplating moving and especially if you have kids in tow, I encourage you to allow my words to penetrate your thoughts, even if only to allow you more confidence in the idea that it can work. It can. But, if you’re faced with the choice, currently enjoy time with your family, have lots of connections, and are relatively happy, I urge you to ruminate on the idea of staying put. Not that you will, but just think about it. What you get from moving might not be as valuable as what you lose or as valuable as it seems right now. On the flipside, it could be great, it could be worth it, and it could be the right thing for you. It’s such a challenge to know for sure, and you really may never know, but weigh your options honestly and carefully.

At this point, we’ve been back in NY for two and a half years and things are very good, barring this pandemic we’re dealing with. It kind of feels like we’ve always been here. I don’t have regrets about moving back and I don’t dwell on the decisions of the past, only appreciate the good that came from those decisions, because a lot of good came from our time in Ohio. Three of the kids are young adults, making their way in the world, so far all locally. One has the itch to travel, so we will support her in that, but she plans to return when she gets what she needs from that experience. The two youngest are thriving and have great friend groups. My youngest has a close buddy two houses down, and my 16-year old has friends scattered all over within a two-mile radius. My husband and I have started taking day trips to the mountains or for shopping and make it a point to speak well of our new hometown. In my opinion, that’s the ticket, that’s the solution to not being thankful or satisfied with where we are or with what we have. If we’re not willing to see or willing to look for the good, it often evades us. Not until we decide to be content, to look for the good, and to love what we have or where we are, will we be fully satisfied or fully realize its value. This can be applied to so many things, like relationships, hometowns, jobs, etc.. You know the saying, “The grass is green where you water it.” Truth! We can choose to be content and happy and to stop looking for happiness elsewhere. In my experience, a change in mindset is a magical thing. That’s not to say that chasing dreams or following your heart is bad, but keeping it real, knowing what really makes you happy is important. More money and more things probably won’t do it, but relationships and real moments with the ones you care about just might. Water the grass…♥

Forget Fearing 40

When you’re 18, 40 seems old, and it still seems old when you’re 25, but when you turn 30, 40 starts seeming just a little too close, a little less old, and a little scary. What is it about the age of 40 that scares us? Is it because that’s when most people start getting a glimpse of gray hair, smile lines, and bulging waistlines? Possibly, or maybe it’s because we think if we haven’t done something great by then, lived out our childhood dreams, or traveled the world, all hope is lost and it’s too late. Or maybe it’s just the fact that 40 is about halfway through life for many, more than halfway for some. I mean, knowing you’re closer to 80 than to 0 can be a little unsettling, am I right? Maybe the fear comes from a combination of all of these things, the unknowns, and the warnings of others. You know, those people that strike fear in the hearts of those 35-39, telling tales of aching joints, balding heads, and sleepless nights. I’ve heard the stories too. Maybe I’ve even told a few… 😉 I can’t recall. After all, I am 43. Ha, get it?

Speaking from the only place I can, my own life and experience, I think 40 gets a bad rap. When I turned 40, I was excited. It was like my age finally caught up with my head. That probably sounds weird, but it’s true. 40 felt right for me, and it seems to me that your forties are what you make them, just like any other age! Choose your mindset, choose positivity, choose to value the growth and confidence that comes with more years under your belt. I’m now sitting at 43, so a few years in and feeling great, in fact, better than ever. Does that give you hope? I think it should. Now, life is different for everyone, and I don’t expect that just because my forties are great that yours will be too, but I think it’s safe to say that fear is unnecessary. And that’s not to say that nothing bad has happened in the last 3 years, but in general, I love being in my forties. I honestly do.

My thirties were hard, the kids were all still young, it was all work and no play most of the time. I was pushing so hard day in and day out, wanting to move toward my goals, but always feeling like there just wasn’t enough time, and I was in a constant state of exhaustion. I bet you can relate. I overthought, worried, and wish now that I could have sat myself down and convinced myself to slow down, or to at least enjoy life more. These days, my kids are all becoming independent to a certain extent: I can take that class, read that book, go on that date with my husband, all the things that were on the back burner. And I don’t feel bad about doing it. It’s not even that there’s always more time, but that I’ve come to the realization that my needs, hopes, and dreams are just as important as anyone’s, so taking steps to meet them is essential not only to my happiness, but to my whole story and everyone involved. This realization has really settled in since 40. It’s not so bad, in fact, it’s pretty nice. It’s good for the kids to see and it’s good for me.

What about our physical bodies at and after 40? Well, this is where we either get a kick in the pants or get rewarded for years of taking care of ourselves. This will again be different for everyone, just like some people begin to gray at age 25 and some at 45. Either way, things do change a little and it becomes that much more important to eat, sleep, and exercise. For me, it also meant cutting back and going easier on myself, as I was beginning to feel my age more than I should have been at a fresh 40. Years of pushing too hard were taking their toll. If you read my post, I Gained Ten Pounds on Purpose, I go more into detail as to why I purposely added weight and lightened up on my workouts. I also wrote about my morning routine here, if you want to see what I do now. It has been life changing for me to realize my own limits and change my ways to better fit my life and my goals. I think your forties are a good time to reassess things, tweak as needed, and move forward.

Physical changes are part of life and they’re slowly creeping in on me, like here and there I see a gray hair, catch a glimpse of fine lines, and notice my up-close vision is fading. I can handle that. I mean, reading glasses are pretty cute… 😉 Ha, for all the girls who wanted glasses just for style, here you go! At forty, you get a pair… 🙂 Beyond reading glasses and the random gray hair, I feel great. It’s been more of a mental shift since 40 than anything; a shift from taking in the world view and making myself fit to taking my unique self and shaping my own world. It’s not like we don’t know these things the whole time, right, but it’s like we don’t have time to pay attention and apply what we know. At 40, I welcomed a new sense of ownership of my own life, choices, influence. I think the saying, “Change your mind, change your life.” is fitting. I’ve heard other women say it, but it’s like you hit 40 and kick it up a notch. You stop taking other people’s crap, start sensing your own worth, and start getting down to business. We can see great examples of life after 40 in the celebrity world. Vera Wang entered the fashion industry at 40, Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50, and the beloved Betty White didn’t really hit it big until age 51. We don’t need to reach the heights these women did, and maybe your “first” will be baking your first loaf of bread from scratch, getting fit, or growing your own garden. It all counts and adds to your story. You have a story, believe it or not. We all do.

So, maybe your kids are beginning to flee the nest, maybe your financial situation is getting better after years of effort, and maybe you have a little more time to yourself. Oh, the places you will go, right? I think you CAN look at it as a new beginning. Not that what came before wasn’t wonderful and magical, because it was, and I encourage you to allow yourself to be sad when your once little babies leave home. Feel it. It is sad at first. But then I urge you to embrace it, for them, but also for you. Watch them fall, flourish, and fly. It’s a beautiful thing. And use your time to refresh your mind and soul. If you have a little extra money here and there, use it to treat yourself once and a while, to help others, and to help your kids. Redecorate your home, start a new project, take a class. Of course, this all may come later, maybe you had your children later than I did, and maybe you won’t have kids fleeing the nest until age 50 or even 60, but the sentiment is the same. If you occupy your mind with positive things, and always move in the direction of growth and adventure (big or small), you will be more than okay. You will flourish and you may even find life more exciting and satisfying.

A lot of this is circumstantial, and not everyone will have the same or even a similar experience, but I think a lot of it is choice, mental maturity, and the reality of how short life actually is settling in. At 40, grandkids might be a reality or a few years down the road, saving for retirement becomes more relevant, and life seems to settle down a little bit. Not that things aren’t still buzzing, because in my experience, they certainly are, but there’s a generally more relaxed feeling in my bones; a feeling like things will happen, I can only control so much, and stressing isn’t worth it. So, my advice is to forget fearing 40. Instead, as much as we can, as much as we’re able, let’s change the stigma of 40, at least in our own little world. Let’s make it an age of excitement, an age to be celebrated, and an age of new beginnings. Let’s teach our daughters to look forward to it and let our younger friends know that the best can be yet to come. Because it can be, if we want it to be, it we choose it to be, if we make it to be. Deal with the bad, but focus on the good. I have the power, you have the power, we have the power…to be 40 and fabulous! ♥

PS: Are you 50, 60, 70? I think we can make every age an age to celebrate and be excited about. We need to simply focus on the good…what is your good? Share your wisdom with me…what do you love about your age?

Say Yes

Northern New York awoke to a winter wonderland yesterday. It was beautiful; a blanket of white as far as the eye could see. Hefty snowflakes fell steadily throughout the morning, giving a glimpse of life within a freshly shaken snowball. And just as suddenly as a snowball clears, our snow stopped falling, and the shoveling began. The kids were all home hanging out. I was reading and writing in my office, then I completed my workout, showered, and readied for the day. I didn’t have much planned, just a quick trip to the store for the basics. I planned to stay put and putter happily, cleaning, cooking, and catching up with the kids. While rifling through old photos for a little video project one of the twins was putting together, my youngest son asked if we could go sledding. Not wanting to commit, I said we could probably go, but with hesitation in my voice. I’m sure you’ve been there, your kid asks to do something that you weren’t planning for your day and you have this guilty feeling if you say no, so you say maybe, then hope they forget. I feel bad just typing it…but, I was warm and cozy, feeling fresh from my shower, and I really didn’t want to go get soggy, sweaty, and cold. My girls and I kept looking at photos for another twenty minutes or so, then my son asked again. Feeling even more guilty, I again said we could try, but again didn’t really want to go. I knew I should, so in my head I was planning a way to fit it in. My twins were planning to go shopping, so were also conflicted. My husband didn’t even know we were discussing it.

Finally, I thought to myself, “Just do it!” and I told my son we were going. I really had nothing urgent happening, so would go sledding for an hour or so. I convinced the twins and my middle daughter, pretty easily, to go too. My husband, not even knowing what we were planning, threw on some jeans and his boots, and he and my son grabbed the sleds. We weren’t going far, just the hill down the road, the one at the school. I had never been there, only run on the hill, so wasn’t sure how good it would be for sledding. The rest of us got bundled up and ready to go. We even let Minnie, our little Shih Tzu hop in the van. Poor Minnie thought she was headed to the groomer’s, but to her delight, we let her run off leash to the hill. She bounded through the snow excitedly the entire time, that is, until she was so covered in snow balls that she could no longer walk. It was a sight to behold.

The hill was fresh, no on had used the side we were on, so we made our paths and had a blast. I took some great photos, took some trips down the hill, and watched my family enjoy one another. Snowballs were thrown, falls were taken, and laughs were had. All this in just an hour or two of time away from the house. It was easier than it seemed, and left me with plenty of time to run to the store and make a great dinner. I didn’t get sweaty, need to redo my hair, or run out of time. I did have a great time, my kids had a great time, and we all made memories. It wasn’t some big adventure, didn’t cost money, and wasn’t somewhere outrageous. It was right in our backyard, free, and simple. As parents, sometimes we want to say no, we’re tired, we’re short on time, and we’ve made other plans, but I think we need to leave room for the unexpected. We need to leave room for spontaneity. We need to say yes. Saying yes can lead to very special moments. Yes, it will mess with your plans, and it might mean you don’t get everything done, but what you will get done is creating a memory that will outlast whatever task you would have done otherwise. I’m not an expert at this myself and have to change my own mind in the moment. I talked myself into it yesterday. I chose to put my son’s desire ahead of my own. Guess what? Next time he asks, I will be the first one to say yes. I had a blast! It was more than worth it. I want to go again!

Maybe you’re already good at saying yes to the kids for things like this. You know, the random requests that come when you’re already headed in one direction. Some people are great at dropping things for their kids, and of course, we all do it here and there, but there are times when we can’t or when duty outweighs entertainment. For me, I have five kids, so this has happened more than once. But, if we can at least say yes when it’s truly possible, when it won’t lead to a missed obligation, or a major overload for the next day, let’s do it. Because, once the memory is there, it’s there for good. The time is gone, but the memory remains, frozen in time, carried for life. Personally, I’ve been working on this for a while, seeking opportunities for random fun, getting out there, saying yes. It’s not always easy, does lead to a little more work later, but it’s always worth it. Always! So, if you’re already doing it, kudos! Keep doing it. But, if you’re a no-first kind of person, a later kind of person, or a someday kind of person. Remember, later might not happen and someday might not come. Today could be all we have, so say yes when you can, say yes when you think you can’t, and say yes when you just want to stay comfortable. Say yes to memories!

PS: NNY awoke to another winter wonderland…what to do, what to do…XCC or snowshoeing, perhaps? 😉

Are You On Track?

It’s been a little over two weeks since the new year arrived and we’re back to the grind, working long days, getting things done. Did you make a resolution? Did you set some goals? How are you doing? Are you being consistent in your efforts? If there’s one key component to success in reaching a goal, it’s consistency. I’ll say it again, CONSISTENCY is VITAL for progress and for reaching your goals. I felt the urge to write about fitness and health in particular, since that’s likely the most common resolution and one that I have a lot of experience with. It’s an area I feel I have complete control over in my own life and have remained consistent in for decades. Wow, I’m getting old… 🙂 Most people want to get healthier in the new year and that’s great, but we’re two weeks in and I would bet that many people are already starting to fall off the wagon. Are you struggling to make progress, or to fit in time to remain committed? The struggle is real and it affects most if not all of us. In fact, I missed my workout yesterday. No shame or guilt, it just happens. Today is a new day. One missed workout, or even a week of missed workouts will not totally obliterate your progress or your plan. But, shame and guilt can create mental hurdles that seem impossible to clear. If our goals are long-term, a missed day or week is just a blip on the radar, insignificant, and easy to recover from. There, don’t you feel better…♥

We all know that we can’t reach our goals without a certain level of commitment and consistency. As I mentioned in my post about making resolutions, you don’t want to start too eagerly, planning to push too hard too soon. The first step for success in reaching your goal is choosing a goal that’s realistic and specific. I wouldn’t recommend looking like a fitness model or dropping twenty pounds in a month as a goal, but whatever your goal is, be sure to write it/them down, and then to chart your progress. When you look back and see things changing steadily, it’ll be easier to stay motivated and stick to your plan. This will make it easier to be consistent and to see on paper your consistency, to prove to yourself you can do it. Eventually, it will just become part of your life.

The second step to reaching your goal(s) is choosing a method to get there that’s something you can stick with over the long run. This will be different for everyone and should be realistic and not overly drastic. For example, I like to hear that someone is starting to walk every day for thirty minutes, or planning to do a circuit training workout 3 days per week. I see red flags when someone says they’re buying an expensive exercise machine and they’ve never really exercised in their life. Because what’s going to happen in most cases? They’re going to have a very expensive clothes rack in about 5-6 weeks. So, start small with a realistic plan and an achievable first challenge, then increase that challenge as you meet and surpass the first, and so on. That way you set yourself up for success upon success, rather than shortfall after shortfall. Get my drift? Like I’ve said before…baby steps. Think about it, babies start by taking tiny faltering steps, then take bigger more stable steps, until finally they’re walking with ease, then running and jumping. They’ve got the idea. Follow their lead!

Once you’re in the groove and showing up on a regular basis, add something new if you want, like some resistance training. Of course, this can also be a starting point, but I find most people new to exercise prefer to start with cardio-based activities, like walking, swimming, or biking. These are all great starting points. Whatever you choose to start with, make it something that you’ll be most likely to continue with. At some point, maybe a month or two in, I highly recommend adding resistance training. I’m a huge fan (HUGE!) of this type of training and think it’s the most overlooked method of training by older people and women. It’s been trending for a while now, but it still seems that people who are new to fitness don’t really get it, and that’s understandable. It can seem complex, but it’s actually simpler than some think.

By resistance training, I basically mean weighted exercises. Think about the word resistance and it makes sense. This type of training involves movements in which we push and/or pull against some kind of force or “resistance.” You can use body weight, dumbbells, exercise bands, etc.. I personally love exercise bands. I love how easy it is to vary the tension, how smooth my movements are when using them, not to mention their portability. I can take them anywhere. And, they’re a great gift. I just gave a set to each of my daughters for Christmas. They love them! Exercise bands are also a very cost effective workout. A set can cost under $20. Get yourself a set if you can! I recommend a set of bands with handles, but also a set of loop bands for leg moves. I’ve got some great glute exercises I will share in a later post. If you don’t work it, you lose it! I’ve purchased some great bands from Power Systems. You can find them here. Anything you can do with a dumbbell, you can do with bands. You can get very creative. Here’s a great and informative circuit training article that incorporates bands and has videos to show how each move is to be performed. It also has a whole month’s plan for getting started, so check it out! If there’s a movement you don’t like or can’t perform, switch it out for another movement. Check out these other sample circuit routines from Women’s Health. They don’t require bands, only body weight, so can be a great introduction to circuit training. The key to circuit training is moving from one movement to the other with little to no rest, working not only your muscles, but also your heart (yes, I know this is a muscle) and lungs. Efficiency at its finest!

I can’t stress the importance of resistance training enough, so here’s a brief explanation of the basics, since many people don’t really know what it means or how to incorporate it into their workouts. Check out this article on the benefits of resistance training for older adults. You’ll see that it isn’t just for the young, it’s just as important if not more important as we age. With benefits like increasing bone strength, decreasing blood pressure, and increasing metabolism, you’d be missing out if you didn’t take heed and get moving. Again, start simple and start small. ACSM also has a simple infographic that shows the benefits of resistance training for our health, with a list of conditions that can be managed with the help of exercise. There’s no end to the information you can find touting the benefits of exercise, and more specifically, resistance training. I highly recommend taking a couple of hours to read about the topic. Look for articles from authors who cite their sources and for information from medical and/or health authorities. Learning only increases your awareness and motivation. Get to it!

Back to specifics, there are two basic types of resistant moves. You have compound moves and isolated moves, and they are what they sound like. Compound moves involve the movement of more the one joint and multiple muscles, while isolated movements involve the movement of one joint and focus on one muscle or a small group of muscles. In general, for my own workouts, I always choose compound exercises over isolated if I’m crunched for time, for the sake of efficiency. But, I do use isolated moves when time allows, typically piggy-backed on compound exercises, for a double whammy. Again, I’m pretty boring in my workouts, don’t like to do crazy or potentially dangerous moves, so stick to a basic set of moves that I interchange regularly. My current system works and it has for years. I have a back condition that limits my choices somewhat and requires that I’m extra careful, but it doesn’t stop me and I truly believe my workouts are what keep my back from being worse than it is. Remember, it’s about being able to remain consistent, safe, and healthy for the long term that matters. I promise that if you take baby steps, but you are consistent, you will make steady progress. With healthy eating added in, most definitely!

We can’t forget about food. It’s another huge piece to the puzzle, but a topic for another post. 🙂 In general, I stick to the philosophy that making healthy choices most of the time is key when it comes to food. I refuse to get too particular, or to think about food too much. If you’re just starting out, you will need to plan more and pay more attention to your choices, but for me, I just don’t worry about it much. Again, years ago, I was too restrictive, too focused on every calorie, and had a problem, so I no longer allow that in my life. I love food, make great choices most of the time, and have balance. Perfection is out. Perfection is not real. Perfection is for others, not for me. Common sense is enough once you learn the basics of nutrition and your own body. For those with extreme needs, I recommend reaching out to a health professional, one who works specifically in nutrition (and exercise, if possible), to get started down a path that will lead to success.

People often talk to me about exercise and healthy choices. Sometimes I talk with people and they say something like, “You’re so lucky you don’t have to worry about your weight,” or, “You’re lucky you’re thin.” Honestly, that isn’t true. Now, maybe my genetics are such that I don’t struggle as much as some, that’s probably true, but it’s been a daily lifelong dedication to my health that had led me to this state. I’m not “perfect,” and compared to a string bean super model, I’m an Amazon woman, but being where I’m at takes effort, not luck. Side note: I also have twin skin, the lovely aftermath of having two beautiful babies at once. 😉 That said, I truly believe that all people are different and some will struggle more in one area than another, this is why we need to be tailoring our goals to our unique selves. For instance, I don’t want to choose a goal of weighing 120, since that would be too light for me. I would struggle immensely to get there and to stay there. I’ve done it once years ago and it was not natural for me. I carry a lot of muscle, so that’s just too light. I felt terrible and was a size 0. I’m pretty sure a 43-year old woman of my stature is not healthy as a size 0. I wasn’t. Now, for some women, 120 is perfectly reasonable. So, each person needs to choose a goal suitable for their build. If you’re creeping up on 40, or you’re over 40 and want to avoid looking older than your age, be weary of dropping too much weight and dropping it too quickly. You’ll lose body fat in your face too, and that will happen early on. It’s unavoidable to a point, but again, it’s being realistic about our goals. Think about it. Overweight people usually don’t look old, or AS old as their thinner peers. Their faces have more natural “filling,” if I can say it that way. So, start taking that filling away, and fine lines can start to show. That should not be a reason to drop exercise or to stay at an unhealthy weight, but I like to point it out to women especially, since it’s not usually mentioned at the start of a workout plan. We need to be prepared for all the effects of exercise, not just the ones we like. 😉

I strayed from topic a bit, but this is my blog and perfection is overrated, so I’ll leave it as is. I like to touch on things that don’t get mentioned often, things you need to know to effect change. The main thing I want to hit home is that you have to show up. You have to be consistent. You have to dedicate your mind and body to the idea that you will do what you said you were going to do. Take exercise like medicine. Don’t make excuses, don’t hit the snooze button, and don’t feel overwhelmed. Instead of totally missing a day, do fifteen minutes. Bored? Search for a new circuit or routine. The choices are endless. It’s likely that the only reason you’ve “failed” in the past is that you weren’t consistent, you didn’t believe in yourself, or you gave up completely. Healthy choices are difficult at first, but once you train yourself to make them most of the time, not expecting perfection, it gets easier. Also, the less you worry about it, the less you stress about it, and the less you allow shame and guilt in, the more natural it will feel. It won’t seem like such a burden. I mean, we brush our teeth (you do, right?) every day and we don’t sit and debate it for half an hour, looking for a way out, dreading it. We just do it. So, is the health of our teeth more important than that of the rest of our body? Of course not! So…get moving! Stop thinking about it. Stop making excuses. Stop saying you don’t have time, don’t know what to do, or hate to sweat, unless you want to stay where you’re at. In that case, you do you! Otherwise, set a goal, make a plan, and start taking those baby steps. Chart your progress, maybe team up with a friend who will hold you accountable. Do it for you, do it for your kids, your grandkids, and for a healthy and long life, because chances are, you want those things. I know I do…Cheers!

PS: It’s Saturday! What’s your plan? It’s snowing hard here today, so an indoor workout is on tap for me. I’m planning to do my 15-minute circuit three times, including all of my upper body moves, lower body moves, and 3 core moves, totaling 45 minutes. Maybe some cross-country skiing tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

No Time…For Real

Take a look at your week. Do you have more to do than you have time for? Or do you at least fear the week because fitting it all in will be such a challenge? I can relate. I work full-time, have a large family, and am working toward other goals, so fitting it all in feels nearly impossible. At least, it is if I also want to eat, sleep, and exercise. Sometimes I hear people say that claiming to not have time is an excuse. Hmm, I disagree. Have you ever written it all down to actually see on paper where your time goes each day? Try it! If you really look at your week, there truly might not be time for much other than the basics. Of course, this is the weekly grind, so weekends allow for more time to get things done, but weekends should also be for extra family time and relaxation. Otherwise, we’ll burn out. Besides, some things can’t be taken care of on the weekends, since many businesses are closed. Personally, I’m fed up. It’s too much, all the time. I’m making minimal progress toward my true goals and it’s exhausting and seems at times ridiculous to be running at this pace day after day, year after year.

Here is a typical day for me:

  • Sleep (7-8 hours)- You may say I should sleep less and I’ll have more time. That doesn’t work for me. I crash hard around 9:00pm, always have, and I wake up at 5:00 am to get my day started. My body requires this much sleep and after my long challenging days, it is what it is. Anything less and I’ll be crying at work in the fetal position…ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration… 😉 Maybe not.
  • Eat (1.5 hours)- I figure about a half hour per meal is typical, but for me, I really don’t sit for breakfast very often, however, I do sit for dinner and usually for lunch.
  • Prepare Food (1-2 hours)- I make a nice dinner each night and often have to make lunches for the kids in the mornings (yes, I should make them do this).
  • Work (8.5 hours, includes travel)- Between travel and work, most full-time employees spend at least this much time on “work.”
  • Exercise (45 min, including all segments)- At least 5-6 days per week, I spend 30-45 minutes working out. Some would consider this optional, but it’s not for me. This will allow me to continue to live long and strong for years to come. It’s essential for mind and body health.
  • Clean/Tidy (1 hour)- Again, some would say to let it all go, but I disagree. Some things simply need to be done, like after dinner cleanup (yes, kids can also do this) and general tidying (family of 7).
  • Shower/Hygiene (45 minutes)- Women have stuff to maintain, as do all adults. But, this takes an hour or less of my day and includes a shower, makeup and hair, and my night routine. I can get ready seriously fast!
  • Read/Study/Plan/Emails/Mail (1- 1.5 hours)- Essential growth and planning for my week.
  • Family Time (remaining time)- Of course, some of these activities include family, like meal time, but extra time is always for family, though as you can see, there’s not much true extra time.

Doing the math…it seems I need more than twenty-four hours to get this all in. Sure, I can cut back on meal time allowance, sleep an hour less, skip the workout, you get the picture. But, to fit all of what in my mind is necessary, is truly impossible, at least doing so to my standards. And this doesn’t even account for making time to keep up with current events, other than maybe squeezing in a little news in the morning reading hour. For me, that’s not what that time is for. Regardless, looking at my schedule on paper, it’s no wonder I feel overwhelmed most days, and that weekends feel like a blurred attempt at catching up. Forget the time it takes to manage my kids’ school, doctor and dentist appointments, and extracurricular activities. Ha, what are “extracurricular” activities? Oh, those are those things that the kids used to do before this world turned into a germy mess…well, really, it’s always been a germy mess, but now it’s worse.

This is why people live for the weekend, why people are stressed and depressed, and why retirement is all people in their 50’s and 60’s can talk and think about. It really is a rat race. Race, race, race, for what? A paycheck. Maybe not even that great of one. I’ve read about countries that work shorter days, end early on Fridays, and focus more on family than work, and it makes sense. It makes sense to be home more, to have a day to get appointments taken care of, or to get your grocery shopping in. Maybe I’m old fashioned, or maybe it’s the former stay-at-home mom in me, but I think things need to change. Of course, most businesses won’t change their way of doing things, for fear of change, for fear of coloring outside the lines and not doing what everyone else is doing, so what can we do as individuals? The sad truth is that we can’t necessarily make change where we work, at least not quickly. Maybe we can work fewer hours, but most can’t. It is what it is, right? So, I guess what we can do is be easier on ourselves, see that it really is as hard as it seems, and that it’s not just an excuse. We can see that others are in the same boat. We’re not alone. We can try to love what we do, since that most definitely will make for better days, and we can take steps toward outside goals if we have them, but not expect to get there tomorrow. We can cut back on things that don’t need to be done, make the most of the weekends, and delegate more. That’s a big one for me. I need to tell the kids what I need, give them a list, and hold them accountable. That won’t solve the problem completely, but it will help. Spread the work out!

Ultimately, we live in a world where things are fast, technology is king, and our time is not truly valued. We all have the job of taking control, managing our needs as best we can, and creating our best lives, given our own circumstances. I’m going to be more intentional with my planning, take stock of exactly where my time is going, and make some changes. Are you? We do have the power to make our days better, and again, baby steps are the best way to start. We can tweak our methods, our schedules, and our mindset. We can’t change the world as a whole, but we can change our own little world. That’s what really matters. We do have that much power…Cheers!

PS: No time to truly edit this post…my apologies for any typos!

She is…

She’s confident, yet hesitant

Fierce, yet gentle

Brilliant, yet confused

Unique, yet ordinary

Fulfilled, yet longing

Steady, yet anxious

Vibrant, yet invisible

Optimistic, yet uncertain

She’s got her head in the clouds, yet she’s firmly planted in reality.

Her days are long, but that’s how she likes it. Her thoughts often overtake her and rarely quiet enough for her to completely let go, but she continues to forge her path not yet visible ahead.

She’s not a contradiction, but a duality. Deep within her bodily cocoon grows a new being…older somehow…wiser…and so powerful.

For now she waits, unknowingly preparing and shaping the new being.

The takeover has already begun, ever so gradually, yet she feels it…

Every struggle, every triumph, every challenge, nourishes the being. In time, it becomes inescapable…emerging from within is the woman she was born to be…slowly and then suddenly…

Here she comes!

PS: First attempt at something like this. I was studying one day and this came to me. ♥

Here Come the Sunday Blues

Maybe I’m the only one, but I doubt it. Do you feel it? It goes something like this…you have a great Saturday, spend time with family, get some work done around the house, maybe watch a movie or play some games in the evening. Then, come Sunday, you start to feel the stress of your week to come already creeping in. Like it’s not bad enough that you give your week away, you also live half of Sunday with anxiety over what your week will bring, what work will need to be done, what hurdles you will have to jump, not to mention the things you will struggle to fit in and likely have to put off until later. This struggle is so real for me and so predictable. If you really think about it, our lives are so packed full of work, appointments, projects, and other commitments, that room for true relaxation and enjoyment feels extremely limited. If you feel this, you’re not alone. I’m with you.

Years ago, I didn’t deal with these feelings. I was a stay-at-home mom and had my own hurdles, but this exact stress was not at all present in my life. I really didn’t have “stress”, at least nothing similar. I felt I had time for appointments, making dinner, cleaning my house, and whatever else needed to be done. My husband made the money and I did the rest. Well, not exactly, but at least during the work week. It was a good balance. But, of course, the kids got older and more expensive, so I started making money to help meet our financial needs. First I worked for myself, and that’s when the Sunday blues started creeping in, but they really began to have an impact when I began to work for someone else in 2017. It was then that the reality of trying to fit everything in was so much more difficult. Really, if you think about it, getting your personal affairs taken care of while you work a full-time job is a huge challenge. Most businesses work the same hours, so either you give up your lunch break to make things happen, you take a day off (if possible), or you wait and try to fit it in next week. It seems impossible and makes little sense. The other stressor for me is the absence from home and my kids that I feel. It’s this sense of complete separation, especially during this pandemic, with them often being at home while I’m at work. My kids are old enough to be home without me, but they still need direction and correction at times. They tend to be lazier when I’m not there. Maybe you can relate? 😉

It’s not even just being away from the kids and not having time for getting my personal business done, it’s also the fact that I have a house to care for, dinner to make, laundry to wash, and the list goes on. You know, you likely have all the same demands. And yes, the kids can help, my husband does help, and I can just not worry about it all. But really, stuff has to get done. You can’t just put things off again and again simply because you don’t have time, right? So, we stress, we get anxious, and we worry about how we’re going to do it this week. It steals our joy and it doesn’t seem fair. And if you’re like me, once you get to work on Monday, things are fine. Work isn’t so bad, you do a great job, and you make it through. The worry and stress was a waste of time and energy.

That said, it still happens and needs to be dealt with. Personally, I notice that the more activities I have on my plate, the more I feel the stress of the week ahead. Obviously, right? Well, yes, but I only say that to make the point that we often exacerbate things ourselves, and to suggest that cutting back on unnecessary tasks, or at least redistributing some of them could be beneficial. I need to do that. I can either stop piling so many things on my plate (whole other post 😉 ) or become a better delegator. I could also stop expecting perfection, and start being willing to accept good enough, when good enough is all that’s needed. Perfectionism…any hands? Me, me, me! It feels like a curse at times. Don’t get me wrong, it can be great, but it can also be a hindrance to progress and happiness. I’m finally learning that perfection is often overrated. Oh, I still make my bed to the same standard every day…like…seriously, it needs to be done just right. 🙂 After all, it looks so pretty! And I love crawling into my crisp hotel-looking bed each night. But sometimes, I need to just get things done, overlook minor and irrelevant imperfections, and move on. Right? Say yes…:) You can do it!

What else can we do to make for a less stressful Sunday? We can’t make businesses work longer hours, making our appointments easier to get to or making it easier for us to stop by, but we can use the personal hours offered at work to take one or two to get things done. That’s what those hours are for, so we should use them. I realize some people don’t have the luxury of personal time, so I know that strategy won’t work for all. What else? Well, things like planning our meals and shopping can help, and like I mentioned earlier, we can also let our standards drop a bit when it comes to our housekeeping and meal prep. Maybe we take the easy route for dinner a couple nights per week, or let the floors go unvacuumed one more day. Who knows, this one is more personal and preference based, so take your own approach.

My last proactive strategy is to add things that distract you. This one can be fun! Plan a Sunday activity that keeps you busy or takes you away from your home and regular thought pattern. For me, this is the best remedy. If I’m busy doing something fun or productive, I can’t worry or stress. Try it! Maybe work on what I talked about yesterday; giving or volunteering. I truly believe that anxiety is often mind over matter. It’s such a challenge, but with consistency and effort, we can help ourselves, especially when we know what’s causing our anxiety. Anxiety is very real, so please don’t take this as me downplaying the severity or complexity of the problem. I mean, I deal with it myself and it has increased as I’ve aged, but I don’t let it control my life. If you find it controlling your life, please reach out for help. It could be the best thing you ever do for yourself. We can’t always fight our battles alone.

This brings to mind self-care, and really, self-care should be number one on our list of things to do. We have to take steps to be our best selves physically and mentally. Here is where we work to get enough sleep, proper nutrition, and movement. I say movement, because I know some people don’t really like the term exercise, and it really doesn’t have to be “exercise.” Walking counts, dancing counts, and any other movement that gets your heart pumping qualifies as the movement I’m talking about. Basically, we need to sleep well, eat well, and move our bodies regularly. This is the foundation for the rest of life. Without one of these, we will struggle.

The last thing and most important thing to remember is that you’re human, you can only do so much, and that you’re not alone. Most of us feel this same stress. It’s not just you. It’s real and it’s valid. I think the goal is as the photo says, “Worry less, live more,” but we know that’s easier said than done. Even still, taking proactive steps can help. In my own life, it has helped and I continue to make changes to make things even better. Like today, I’m going to plan my weekly meals so that’s one less thing I need to think about daily. Baby steps…♥

PS: Writing this blog helps me, too. Maybe you could try writing your thoughts down. Write down how you feel, what steps you’re taking to help yourself, and chart your progress. How about you also talk to a friend about your stress. I’ve found that people don’t talk about this topic and when I bring it up with someone, we usually have great conversations and comfort one another. After all, we’re in this together!

Are You Giving?

Right now our world is a little upside down. The political scene is a mess, the pandemic has drastically limited our movements, and people are struggling. We’re losing people, losing jobs, dealing with depression, an increase in domestic violence, and the list goes on. Some of us have probably fared pretty well, so far missing any major setbacks, still working, saving, and coping well enough. Don’t get me wrong, no one has made it this far completely unscathed. We’ve all had to endure huge changes: wearing masks outside our homes, and maybe even inside, limiting our travel, working and schooling from home and the juggling act that comes with it, etc.. It hasn’t been easy. The news is depressing, social media is depressing, and it’s the middle of winter for many, me included. So what can we do, especially if we’re in a place of relative comfort right now, to positively impact others? Volunteering is limited with current restrictions, but there is another way, and that is to give in some way to those in need. It could be your time, your money, maybe a ride to work. Think outside the box. There may even be people that simply need a smile or an ear to listen. That counts and can truly change someone’s world.

If you’re in the place to help, you’re one of the lucky ones. My challenge to you is to look for a way to give, by whatever means you can. It doesn’t have to be a lot and it doesn’t have to be money. Do you have skills you could put to work for a few hours for others? I bet you do. That’s a great way to give. Are you a crazy coupon shopper? I love coupons! Take $50.00 (or any amount) to the local store and snag some great deals for the local food pantry. Do you have a car and free time? Local meal programs are always looking for delivery drivers. Good at shoveling driveways? Why not sneak over and shovel your neighbor’s? The list is likely endless, and I’m not an expert in this area, but I do feel the occasional guilt of not trying hard enough to help, especially right now. My husband and I are both lucky to have our jobs, health, and a comfortable home. So, I’ve decided to be more proactive and to begin giving more. I can’t give as much as I would like, but if each of us gives a little, well, you know… 🙂

Maybe you’re already giving, and I know a lot of you are, so that’s great! I give here and there, but have a strong desire to do more and to be more consistent with my giving. I know some people who devote much of their time to giving and I admire those people, and I also hope to be one of them some day. Of course, different stages of life and different circumstances allow for different opportunities and time allowances. But, if you’re like me, wanting to give, and not really sure how, take a moment to really think about ways to start. Look in your local newspaper, check your local websites, or simply ask around. My challenge to you, and to myself, is to give once this month. We have about three weeks left in January. I’ve got my method set and moving…are you up for it? If you’re able…just do it! After all, we could all use a little distraction from this currently chaotic world. Don’t you agree? Cheers!

PS: Do you have a plan to give? Leave a comment if you do. Don’t be specific, but let’s get a list going of who’s up to the challenge. If you write it down, you’re more likely to follow through. Remember, it doesn’t have to cost money… 😉

Psst, I’m Following You…Again

Okay, so maybe I’m not following YOU, specifically. But many people are, I would guess. In this increasingly virtual world, having followers and following others is the norm. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of social media, but I’m trying to take a new, more positive and inclusive approach to the social media platforms I use. First off, I decided not to shut people out. After all, I only accept people I know and am comfortable with as friends on social media, so to add them and then unfollow them is, in my mind, borderline rude. After writing and rereading my own post, The Power of Acknowledgement, I went ahead and followed all of my Facebook friends. I decided that for me, using Facebook as another way to befriend someone, but really not interact with them, wasn’t a nice thing to do, even if that’s not why I unfollowed them in the first place. And it wasn’t.

Now that I’m following all of my friends, I’ve been excited to see what people are up to. It’s good to have them back, and if I’m completely honest, the only reason I’ve unfollowed people in the past is to quiet the noise in my head, and to limit negative influence or feelings that can come from using social media. It’s an acceptable thing to do and recommended for mental health, I would assume. Personally, however, I find that social media is just another place where someone can feel overlooked and invisible, so I decided that I didn’t want to be contributing to that. By unfollowing people, all people that I know rather well, I was hindering my ability to use my power of acknowledgement. So, if you’re reading this and on my friends list, I’m following you…again. 🙂 I think a better strategy for me, will be to avoid social media on days I’m not feeling it, you know, the days when seeing someone on a deluxe vacation in Mexico might make me feel like I’m missing out.

I’m keeping this one short today, since I’ve got to get my workout in…core and cardio day! I challenge you to think about your friends list and how you use social media in general. Are you using it in a way that’s beneficial to your needs, but also not negatively affecting others? You’re free, of course, to use it as you please, follow, unfollow, etc. Or, drop it all together, which is sometimes a good idea, at least for a while, but if we keep in mind that the whole idea of “social” media is not just about us, and that our actions, even though virtual, affect others, it’s easier to make decisions that are thoughtful. Social media is a virtual relationship network, so let’s use it to our benefit, but also for the benefit of others. Have a great Friday…cheers! ♥

PS: I did it! This is my tenth day of blogging. I may spread them out more now, but my goal was ten consecutive posts to start. 🙂 Have you been working toward a new goal?

Entry-Level and Middle-Aged

At age 22 I gave birth to my first child, a boy, and I had no intention of doing anything other than caring for him and taking care of my home. Crazy as it sounds, my biological clock started ticking at about age 20 and I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. At the time, I was still in the Air Force, my husband was serving in the Marine Corps, and we were on opposite sides of the country. California for me and North Carolina for him. After my schooling in Monterey, I went on to study in Texas for a few months, then landed at my duty station in Maryland. Apparently, that was close enough and with only one or two visits from my husband, I was pregnant. Timing is everything…;) I have to also mention here that my husband and I were members of the fundamental Baptist Church at the time, he was studying to be a preacher and I was going be the preacher’s wife and a stay-at-home mom, not because anyone told me that I had to, it was all that I wanted.

About 4 months into my pregnancy, and with an honorable discharge, I left the Air Force, my husband’s term in the Marine Corps ended, and we headed back north to live near family. I can so vividly recall that trip back, being so nauseous I had to kick my husband and his gas-station hot dog out of the car. Those days are like a storybook I can replay in my mind, so simple, so sweet. And the day my boy was born was the day that sealed the deal…this mom thing was for me. I was right where I wanted to be. And I wanted lots of them…babies that is. I have never been happier than that. I mean, I think I’m still that happy, but now that happiness is mixed with stresses and worries. Back then it was all bliss. No real worries. Sure, we were basically poor, not sure of how we’d make it in the long run, but oblivious to it all. It was so simple in 2000.

I explained all that only to evoke a sense of why I stayed home for so many years. Not that I need to explain, but it was what I was meant to do. I believe that. Now, the last time I was “just” a stay-at-home mom was many years ago. I’m going to say it was about ten years ago. At that time, I started making cakes from home, then I went on to have a home daycare for 3 years, my own cleaning business for 1, then I took an entry-level job with Fastenal. So, as time went on, and financial need arose, I went to work, for myself, then for others. Fastenal was first, and it was fun. Leaving home to work was exciting, extremely challenging, and eye opening. First off, being a stay-at-home mom is not easy. It’s damn hard, physically and mentally. Running my own business was hard, in both the same ways. But, working for someone else, on their schedule, 30 minutes from home, was a whole new kind of challenge. Being on time, after running kids to school, making lunches, and fighting traffic was difficult. But, I did it, like we all do, I acclimated, and for the most part, enjoyed it. I even made work friends, which was great.

Working at Fastenal lasted for almost a year, and at that time I lived in Ohio, so when my family decided to move back to NNY to be near family, I left that job and made plans to take a couple of months to get the kids situated, then I would start job hunting in NY. I landed a job at the local hospital, worked there for a year, then was offered a job at the local university. Again, entry-level, but I was excited. The perk of free tuition for my kids was icing on the cake.

Presently, I’m still working the university job and very happy. It’s still a challenge to be full time and a mother, but teamwork gets it done, as does realizing that I can’t do it all. Some things will get done on the weekends, like laundry and deep cleaning. But really, the point of this post was that I’m 43 and working an entry-level job. Sometimes it bothers me. I have a leadership mind, a creative mind, and one that craves more, but I’ve learned that my time will come. I know it will. But now, I’m sharpening my skills, soaking it all in, taking classes, reading, and doing my absolute best each day. I fear being underestimated by my peers and supervisors, because I’m 43 and at the bottom. I sometimes want to tell the story of my life so people understand and see that I wasn’t sitting home eating bonbons, but instead, I did so many things, like leading the PTA, starting, growing, and running three small businesses, all of which could have been continued with great success. The list goes on… It’s funny to me that if I had a college degree, more doors would be opened, and I’m almost there, so we’ll see, but I’ve learned so much more in life than in any class that I think that box being checked should be irrelevant. And honestly, I’m pretty much done thinking about that. It is what it is. Right? I’m taking classes, since they’re free, and I want to learn. I love it! And I honestly love my job and feel lucky. I am the face and voice of my department and I feel like it’s the perfect fit for me. If I asked my shy younger self, she wouldn’t believe that I spend my days on the phone and working with people in person (pre-pandemic 😦 ). I’m almost two years in and have learned so much. I’m so thankful! One of the best things about an entry-level job is that you can leave work at work. I don’t have to stress about big things at home. My duties don’t leave the office. When raising a family, that’s really nice.

I guess that’s a lot to say for one little message, which is that working an entry-level job in middle age is not something to be ashamed of. There are good reasons to be doing so. And not everyone wants to work their way up the ladder. I don’t necessarily either. I want to create my own ladder… 😉 Until then, and it may be a while, I will kick butt entry-level style. I will send as many people away with a smile as humanly possible and go above and beyond each day. Don’t think that your entry-level job in middle age equates to a lack of drive or intelligence, instead maybe it’s a sign of sacrifice and balance. It is for me. You, like me, are unique with a life full of learning and challenge. Take that and do whatever job you have with compassion, precision, and patience. Be the person at your workplace that loves their job. Because, good things usually only come with effort. And good things come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it’s as simple as an acknowledgement of your efforts, or as exciting as a promotion, but regardless, the sense of satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work, where you give your all, is often good enough. Living a life that you can be proud of, not one that you grumble your way through, not one in which you claim victory by rising to the top, but one in which you can say you did your best every day, and one in which you were able to make small impacts (smiles count), is my measure of a good and satisfying life. It’s one your children and grandchildren can learn from. Fancy living and riches don’t mark success, not to me. To me, success is marked by a life that is led with dignity and an awareness of self that surpasses all success and challenge. Of course, we grow into this. So, if you’re about my age, give or take a few years, working an entry-level job or close to it, and you ever feel less than or looked down upon, please don’t, because in reality, that’s pure fiction 🙂 . My advice is to keep kicking butt entry-level style! Cheers! ♥

PS: Here’s a thought…essential employees are “essential”, yet…they’re paid the least in an organization. Think about it, and we’ve seen a bit of it, if all heck broke loose, who would be most important and actually get things done…we all know who! Keep at it!

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