Monday, October 13, 2014

Guest Post: Vanessa Spiller on Finding Your Grit

Vanessa Spiller. Grand Canyon '12
I've shared before that harder2kill was born from a combination of life events and meeting a few inspirational people along the way. One of those people is Vanessa Spiller. I met Vanessa in 2012 when she was the Survivor accompanying the trekkers on one of Project Athena Foundation's Rim to Rim to Rim Grand Canyon treks. From the moment I met her, she re-defined for me the meaning of Survivor. I'm blessed to count her as not only a friend, but also as a coach and mentor. IMHO she's a complete Badass - a term I only use in the highest regards and esteem - because that is what she is to me and so many others that know her. Vanessa is a breast cancer survivor! Who better to write a guest post during Breast Cancer Awareness Month than her? But she didn't just survive - she's a thriving example of living with intent, living with purpose, living with perspective and living with joy after cancer. 

She's an endurance athlete. Since meeting her in '12, she's checked Boston Marathon and NY Marathon off her list. She's completed multi-day adventure races, paddled/biked/ran from Key Largo to Key West and trekked R2R2R of the Grand Canyon like a boss! Although she's quick to dismiss any fuss made about her athletic accomplishments, her day job as a certified nutritionist and trainer certainly helps others to achieve their fitness and athletic goals. Last year she offered to go on a hike with me when training for GC trek #2 - I invaded her home for 3 days while she coached me, inspired me and lovingly kicked my booty on the Roller Coaster portion of the Appalachian Trail! 

I'm so glad to introduce you to Vanessa, we are all blessed that she is #harder2kill 

******

Finding Your Grit

grit \'╔írit\ noun 
courage and resolve; strength of character.
Synonyms:  courage, bravery, backbone, spirit, strength of character, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, resolution, determination, tenacity, endurance.

This is how Mr. Webster defines grit. How do you define grit? I want you to really take a moment and think of the last time you demonstrated courage, a backbone, or endurance.  It doesn’t have to be something physical. Maybe it was facing a difficult conversation with a loved one. Or, maybe it was going outside your comfort zone at work. Or, maybe it was something physical like training for a marathon or any other endurance event that you just didn’t know how you would make it to that finish line. I challenge you to think about what life experiences have allowed you the opportunity to find out what you’re made of?  I’m guessing each one of us would have a different answer to that question. There isn’t any right or wrong answer—just an awareness.

I found my true grit three years ago when four words were spoken to me by a breast surgeon. “You have breast cancer.”  Like most people who have had this said to them will tell you, “I didn’t hear much of anything else after that.” I decided when Pamela asked me to write this for her harder2kill blog post that I didn’t want it to emphasize my personal story, but rather emphasize awareness of the disease and that there is life after cancer.

As most know, October is breast cancer awareness month. I’m ultimately grateful that there is a month dedicated to reminding people about this life altering disease.  Getting diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer is life changing and the healing doesn’t end when treatment is over. Over the last three years I’ve put my energy into helping women just like me understand that there is life after cancer.    

A cancer diagnosis made me sit up and take notice and find my grit.  What makes you dig deep and find your grit? Think about it, say it out loud, carry it with you and let it serve as a motivation to be the absolute best you can be. Think about what takes you courage to do. When do you most need a backbone? Where do you need or want to be more determined in your life? Where can endurance play a healthy role in your life?

I’d like to humbly dedicate this post to the many women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. Here’s to them and to finding our grit!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eat Naked (food)! Why I'm doing the October Unprocessed Challenge

October Unprocessed 2014

I did it last year, and I'm doing it again. It is a perfect nutritional reset before diving into the madness of Holidays. If you are miserable, unhappy, tired or feeling like crap. It's likely your food. I won't get all preachy - y'all know my love/hate relationship with food. I'm barely out of the nutritional gutter myself, so certainly not in a position to preach from a soap box.

The truth is - I can vouch for how I feel when I eat clean. I can also describe how I feel when I'm wallowing in the nutritional gutter.

The experts explain it here. It'll take commitment and planning, but they give you the recipes and the shopping lists. That has always been the hardest part for me.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alabama Pumpkins

I sat decorative pumpkins out today. Unreal. The fact that this is my first real-time post from Alabama is little bit of intention but mostly due to unintentional loss of time. Harder2Kill may have started to chronicle my fitness journey, but when our life turned upside down at the beginning of the year, Harder2Kill became my therapist. All of you became a part of our journey. For those who took time to read my posts, you either really care about us or just enjoy a train wreck. Either way - your notes, comments and encouragement was reassuring to us during a scary, uncertain and vulnerable time. For the 6 months of radio silence, I'm sorry. So much was changing on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis that leaving chronologically journal-ed proof of our mess was a level of TMI that even I was unwilling to share!

And while Harder2Kill hasn't been published in a while, my journal-ing continued. I just needed time before being willing and able to publish. Topics either drafted or just framed for concept have continued. I have 47 posts sitting in draft mode after my blogging hiatus. So much has happened in the last six months, but I'm ready to start sharing some of the posts that were written. All the others I'm working to group in somewhat of a logical order and will backfill those as I can. 

Cliff Notes Version of 2014
1. My job suddenly ended on December 30th. Happy New Year.
2. Spent January scared to death while trying not to freeze to death. Polar Vortex.
3. Spent February focused plotting next career phase. Pimping Ain't Easy.
4. March brought two amazing professional opportunities. One was local and one required a major move for the family. Why take the easy path? Half the family moved to Alabama, while the other half remained in Illinois to finish the school year. I started my new job. Queue the Circus! 
5. April required and all of us to dig deep and attempt to settle into our New Yet Temporary Normal phase. Chaos was our normal. So was FaceTime. 
6. May got long. Really Long. Everyone was missing someone. Summer break couldn't get here quick enough! Come on summer!
7. June - School FINALLY over for my son. He was able to make the move to Alabama. It was a mixed blessing for my Husband. His hard days were only just beginning. He packed, sold, stored, and moved all of our belongings AND sold our house within three weeks! He literally carried the weight of our family on his shoulders. Total badass in my book!
8. July - With the house sold and other loose ends tied off - my husband boldly decided it was time resign his position of 20 years and explore what new career possibilities could unfold for him here. Still a total badass in my book! 
9. August - The Hubs joined the family in Alabama, and for the first time in months we were living under the same roof. School started back for my son and we entered the New, New Temporarily Normal phase. We'll we ever be normal? 
10. September - Just a whole lot of normal life. Queue the Happy Dance sequence! 

So here we are. It's October, I'm staring at pumpkins unable to absorb how quickly 2014 has sped by. Enjoy the back-filled posts. I welcome anyone interested in taking the journey with me. For those of you hoping for a train wreck, you'll not be disappointed either :) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

I don't give a sh!t - and why that should scare you.

Not caring. It is an emotion that should set off buzzers and red flag warnings to all around you. Complacency threatens your desire for more, for different, for better. Equally threatening is indifference. When you truly could care less about an outcome, you've already given up. If allowed, complacency will permeate into all aspects of life and numb you. I've seen it so many people. I've seen it in myself.

Work, relationships, health - it is all vulnerable. Shield yourself from the corrosion that complacency can cause.

I believe if I can continue to make a concerted effort to be better each day, then I can keep complacency from polluting my outlook.

I recently shared that I had allowed old habits to rear back up. I heard myself saying things like, "what's the point, it doesn't matter, who cares?" I'm speaking from experience. The moment you realize you are having those thoughts, immediately examine it further. Don't dismiss it. Find the point. Figure out how it matters and certainly identify who should care. Then please promise me that you will run to the nearest mirror and look yourself in the eyes. Determined eyes shine bright. Complacent eyes have no life in them. Don't let complacency snuff the light from your eyes.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Warning: This Blogger will Self-destruct

I've handled the move well. I've handled the separation of my family as well as possible. I've handled my new job pretty well too. What I've not handled well at all is my commitment to fitness.

Not only did my commitment to fitness take a backseat. I bound it, gagged it and tossed it in the trunk. If I happen to overhear the muffled cries of my fitness calling for help, I turned up the radio so that I could pretend my bad choices weren't stacking up.

With my commitment to fitness hijacked - I started down an all-too-familiar road of crappy food. Steamed squash turned in to squash casserole. Grains, bring them on! Eventually I became use to the intestinal discomfort that happens every single time. Dairy, Sweets! Oh yeah! Pile it on! After living strict Paleo, I tossed it all.

Maybe I should analyze the Why, but even knowing why doesn't undo it. If you know me at all by now - you realize moderation really isn't my thing. It is a concept as foreign to me as reading hieroglyphics.

Even as I felt the clothes grow more snug, I kept eating. As the clothes without "give" sank to the back of the closet, I kept eating. As the ones with "give" became my staple, I kept eating.

I finally put myself on the scale. 25 lbs. Unreal. But I didn't stop there. I kept eating. Even as I stopped enjoying food. I kept eating.

I think I'm a sane and reasonable person. But then I read my own words and think, "Pamela - you have issues!"

So I've  topped out at 29 lbs gained since moving to Alabama. I have no one to thank but myself. I'm going back to what works for me. Grain & dairy free and no refined sugars. This isn't a size thing. Truth is my body is happier and I'm healthier when I live that way. I know I'll get the new poundage off. I always do. Well almost. It's the trend of self-destruction that concerns me. Why do I repeatedly get myself so close to success and then start self-destructing?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama

It's been a busy few weeks. So much so, keeping up is even a challenge for The Hubs and I. But I have exciting news! The Hubs resigned earlier this month and wrapped-up his job this week! I'm so proud of him. He's daring to explore what is next for him. Now we can all be together and be back to one family under one roof.

When I lost my job on December 30th it affected more than just me. It has literally had an impact on our entire family. To support me in my new job, The Hubs is sacrificing his.

I know there is an amazing plan for him. God has been present in every step along the way for us throughout this entire year. The Hubs will now get to do something that most people never have the chance to do - he gets to plan an entirely new career for himself. He's been a chemist for 20 years. He's ready for a new challenge. And while the uncertainty is unnerving for him, I know there are great opportunities in store for him.

For the first time since March we all now live in the same state! Sweet Home Alabama never sounded so sweet!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Owning, selling and buying

We sold the house today. Amazing when you consider that it was never officially for sale. I think it is just one more glowing piece of evidence that God has all of this under his control. We truly broke every rule to selling a house, and yet here we are with signed papers.

The house is fantastic on a fantastic street in a fantastic community. I'm happy for the new owners. They are getting amazing home. But that house stopped being home for us months ago. The last few weeks have been a labor of love to get moved out so that we could literally move on. By selling our home, we are buying into the possibility of a whole new life.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Hardest Falls Happen the Fastest

BrokenArmUnbrokenSmiles_smaller

As a mother, I spend a large portion of my energy attempting to keep my children safe. From food to playgrounds to sports, I'm constantly surveying potential danger. It's exhausting, but I've been convinced that my vigilance keeps them safe from harm. Until it didn't.

My daughter broke her arm. I was less than 5 ft away and I was staring right at her. But that didn't keep her from landing on her arm and breaking it.

All the guilt, anxiety and sheer exhaustion from spending most of the night in the ER of Children’s Hospital washed away the moment I saw this face looking up at me. I couldn’t snap the picture quickly enough. Her arm was broken, but her smile was not.

I’m watching her compensate for her cast. (As an aside, I want to hug the person that invented the waterproof cast! At least she could still swim and play in the water.) She misses her bike and scooter, but for the most part she hasn't missed a beat. In fact, she takes a lot of pride in her cast. She happily shows it to anyone she sees, and refuses to wear her sling because she doesn’t want her cast to be covered.

Children are resilient, and I now understand that if we escape the childhood years with only a fractured arm, than we will be blessed beyond measure.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hello, Good-bye and Oh No!

He's here! He's here! My son, Coppertop,  has made the move to Alabama! Father's Day weekend was certainly bitter-sweet for The Hubs. On one hand we all got to spend the weekend together. We met up in Paducah to celebrate Father's Day but it was also the coordinated hand-off for Coppertop to come back with me and Miss C.

Departing on Sunday was hard on everyone. Emotionally and physically. Sunday was the day we dreaded all weekend long. It usually is on our weekends together, but this one was made even more difficult by the fact that The Hubs and I both got a touch of food poisoning from our dinner the night before. We were both sick. It was misery. I'll spare you the TMI, but compounding the struggle was the fact that we both had 300+ miles to drive. I had the added challenge of driving with two children with me. It was a monumental effort for us to pack-up, load-up and hit the road that day. On the bright side, it kept the good-byes very matter-of-fact. We couldn't get emotional. We were too dehydrated. To make  matters worse, I got sick while driving down the road and the only option was to grab the plastic tub that held my daughter's toys.

If looks could have killed, I would have been left for dead on the side of a KY interstate. I'm exhausted, dehydrated, struggling to focus on driving and all I hear for the next 100+ miles is Miss C yelling at me for "frowing-up" on her toys. I'm not sure I'll ever be forgiven.

It is ironic that it was Father's Day weekend that we determined would be the best time for Coppertop to move to Alabama. Of all weekends for The Hubs to return home without his family. I'm sad for him, but we know it is necessary. One more milestone met.

Now with both children here, my heart is almost complete. The main focus now is for The Hubs to finalize the house projects.

Friday, May 23, 2014

There's no place like home

We've been home this week!! It's not about being back in this house that makes it feel like home. It is the fact that for the first time in months, we are all back under one roof. That is proof that anywhere we all are is home. I love this house, but it's just a building. It's only home when we are all here together.

Being "home" is exactly what we all needed. Attending my son's baseball games, bus stops, car line, I've happily done it all! It's been great to watch my daughter visit with her friends and teachers. I think she was most excited to be back in her bedroom. We are truly a family this week and all of the beautiful insane chaos that comes with that.

The house is actually more of a warehouse right now - 1/2 boxed for storage and the remaining items are either slotted for donation or heading to Alabama at a later time. The Hubs has been busy. Even he says without all of us there, it stopped feeling like home to him.

It has been an amazing blessing to have this week together. It interesting to watch a house become a home and then seeing it turn back into a house again. Home Sweet Home is truly where all of us are together. For now that will have to be in motels on the weekends that we can. Next milestone is for my son to wrap the school year and join us in Alabama as soon as possible.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Regress, Progress and a Big Ol' Mess

We are in a difficult stretch right now. We are one family living two separate lives. The Hubs and my son are still living the "old life", while my daughter and I are living our "new life". It is very difficult to feel connected as a family.

As far as our "new life" I'm finding myself regressing a bit with my commitment to nutrition and fitness. I'm falling into old trappings of eating out, sleeping in and putting off the workouts. Regress.

My new job is going well. I think I will never run out of things to learn. It is exciting and fulfilling. At the same time, The Hubs is handling the "old life" like a boss! The boys have their "new normal" and he has a sidekick that helps him with all "gotta sell this house" type of projects. Progress.

As part of selling the house, there is the complication that we aren't simply packing up location A and moving to location B. We have the added dilemma of needing to put 85% of our house into storage. Figuring out what you still need to live for the next few months, what gets moved to Alabama, what gets stored and how all of if gets out of the house is one Big Ol' Mess

Monday, May 12, 2014

1/2 Happy

We've been apart for eight weeks. We've all been missing each other. We all stay adequately busy during the days, but at night the emotions take their toll. My daughter gets tired and cries for her daddy. My son asks how many more days until he comes to Alabama. It's usually really late at night before I can steal anytime away for a catch-up call with my husband.

My son is busy playing baseball. My husband is busy coaching him. Both are busy packing up boxes, studying and year-end scout activities. Yet even with technology, there is no substitute for being there. Great days and Great news - seem less great when you try to retell the story at a later time. For now even on our happiest days we can only manage to be 1/2 happy. 

And then there are the rumors. Most can be dismissed. Some we've even laughed at, but the line was crossed when my child had the "D" word explained to him by another child at the bus stop. In this case the child was only repeating what he had heard his parent say. I get it. We've been a bit vague. Not everyone gets to be in the loop. It is necessary. But for those who know the truth, and choose to spread gossip, shame on you. Sadly, this was the case. The truth is really less interesting. 

Soon enough, people will have to find someone else's life to speculate about. Our family separation is nearing an end. That day can't get here soon enough. We know this is all temporary. But I'm looking for the day we get to be complete again. The truth, while disappointing to the gossipers, will reflect that we are indeed still happily married and very much committed to each other and our family. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

All The Single Ladies

My hats off to all the single mothers. You are strong. You are determined. You are a fighter. You are focused. I admire your abilities very much. I'm a terrible single mom. No this isn't an attempt for you to convince me that I'm better at it than I realize. It is true. I am completely spoiled by The Hubs.  The Hubs is more than my children's hero. He's my hero too. He makes me a better person. Without him - I'm just a selfish, immature and rash version of my adult self.

So now that we are living 700+ miles apart, the selfish, immature and rash person is running around this house unchecked. As the weeks turn in to months, the hissy fits are increasing. The meltdowns are increasing. The unwillingness to backdown to logical reason is increasing. I wish desperately that I was describing my three year-old here and not myself.

The Hubs is a steady, even keeled balance to my personality. He's practicality counters my love for indulgence. His calm counters my excitability. His need to plan counters my willingness to swan dive off of cliffs. He's the anchor my flightiness needs. I'm not easy to love. I'm really not easy to live with, and I can't imagine liking me much if I weren't me.

The mornings are difficult. The evenings are even harder. I need my partner. I pretty much suck without him.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Save the drama for your mama

The Mother/Daughter relationship is complicated. Within five minutes you can fight, love, cry, and rejoice with each other. There is no shortage of opinions, advice, running commentary and constructive criticism around here - coming from all sources. Most of the time my mom knows what I'm thinking, and I know what she's thinking. We can actually fight silently, which is completely off-putting to my husband. He only had brothers. So the complexities of Mother/Daughter communication is new to him. 

One of the reasons that our move to Alabama can be handled in phases, is the blessing of having my mom's house as our temporary lily pad. It is a blessing that I'm forever grateful for. But it doesn't come without challenges. We currently have three generations of Mother/Daughters living in one house. That is a recipe for Hot Mess Soup! As I watch my very strong-willed daughter dig her heels in with my very stubborn mother, I just laugh. And I hide. 

So far we are all living to tell our versions of the stories to anyone who will listen, but I can't help but remind my mother of all the times that she wished for me "to have a daughter just like me". Karma. 

Most of our days are pretty good, and I'm loving all of the time that my daughter and mom are having together. She's never had the "everyday grandparent" experience. So far in my children's lives, Grandparents were only people you saw on special occasions, but now my mother and daughter are building a relationship with each other. The fact that she is old enough to remember these days with my mom is a blessed time that I will look back on and be grateful for.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fearing Success

I have First Day Jitters. I start my new job tomorrow. What if they don't like me? What if I don't like them? What if no one sits with me at lunch? What if I get lost? What if they meant to hire someone else? I can seriously continue with the "What if "questions all night. So I'm doing the only thing I know to do and over-sharing with you here.

My last "first day" was over 12 years ago. I was so settled-in to the organization and my role. Neither is necessarily a good thing. I knew the moving parts. I knew where the bodies were buried. Again, not necessarily a good thing. For better or worse, I knew what was expected of me. 

There is something comfortable about the "known", but that also leads to complacency. So far 2014 has been a constant stream of "unknown" and tomorrow is no different. 

The new company has an amazing reputation - both in their industry and within the community. I find comfort in that. The challenge of what I'm being asked to do certainly falls within my comfort zone. However it is to a scale that I could have only dreamed of previously. 

And while I was one of the veterans at my old company, I wasn't insulated from change. I had a constant stream of new bosses. In twelve years, I had 15 bosses. Apparently I'm difficult to manage. If I base my self-confidence on my last boss, I'm sunk before I start. So I'm wiping that from my mind. New bosses are nothing new, except this time it is an entirely new industry to learn. Am I too old to learn?  

So how do I do this? Learn new industry, new-ish town, new company and new colleagues? 

This opportunity is everything we prayed for. It is the very scenario that friends described for me when trying to encourage us. People would say things like, "you are going to get a new job that is even more amazing, more challenging, more rewarding." On your scariest days, you want to believe them. You hope beyond hope that they are correct. The scariest part of receiving the very blessings you pray for, is the idea of messing it up. A million more "What if's...." pollute my thoughts. What if I'm handed this blessing then fall on my face in failure. What if I screw up? We are disrupting our entire family for this opportunity. 

My Dad constantly told me, "The safest place to be is in the center of God's will." I find myself repeating his words, and trying not to trip over my own insecurities. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Moving in, out and on

On the road to Alabama

Today is day that has been planned for and prayed over, but it didn't make it any easier. It is both exciting and scary. Earlier this morning, and 700 miles away, I stood in the foyer with my 3 year-old daughter and we just walked out of our house. Almost like we were just running an errand. She had no idea that she'll never live there again. I remembered the first time I visited this house. She was only a few weeks old, and she was sleeping in her carrier. We left her asleep in the foyer while we explored the house. That day was a magical day. We had just added to our family. We had finalized the sell of our other house, and we were eager to settle into a great community and school for our children. While I had always shuddered at the thought of suburbia, here we were that day - running towards suburbia with open arms.

So to stand in that same foyer 3 years and 2 months later and realize that we were moving out, was quite overwhelming. I was also struck and humbled by the overwhelming trust our children have in us. My daughter only knew we were beginning our "Alabama Adventure" words like moving, new job, this is going to get difficult - have no real meaning to her. So I busied myself with driving and we were off! For the rest of the trip, I absolutely couldn't allow myself to think about the other half of our family remaining behind. My brave 1st grader got on the bus this morning knowing that he'd come home and his sister and mother would be gone. My brave husband went to work knowing that when he came home his daughter and wife would be gone.

This is all a carefully orchestrated plan that The Hubs and I agreed would be best for the family. Yet when the sequence of events starts to occur, you can get washed away by the current of emotions. 

I start my new job on March 17th. I want to get settled in and introduce my daughter to her new school before starting work. 

Today was only the first in a series of events that have to occur over the coming months. Our move to AL is just the start of the dominoes. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inadequate Thank You

I love words. I love writing. I especially love the power of words when written well. Yet despite my love of words, I’ve been unable to find appropriate ones lately. No matter how much I try, every attempt falls short of conveying the emotions filling my heart. So here goes and please forgive the inadequacies of the thank you. While 2014 started off with a deafening Kaboom, I have to say that losing my job allowed us to experience the beautiful side of people. So many of you reached out to us with prayers, encouragement, advice, and good old fashioned cheerleading. Your closest friends and family are no surprise. Of course they are the first responders at your side. They are the ones that are triaging you.

But there are other people waiting in the wings that are amazingly helpful.  The former co-worker that goes out of her way to put in a good word for you at her current company. A sorority sister that you haven’t seen in 20 years who reaches out to you to let you know she’s praying for you. The friend from high school that makes an introduction for you to pursue an opportunity. A friend that has previously traveled this same road, and wisely forces you out of yoga pants to attend networking events. The letter from your childhood church letting you know you are being prayed over. The surprise flowers that brighten up a gloomy mood. The jar of dirt that is worth more than gold. A luncheon with women that have seen you at your best and your worst and still love you anyway. People that read Harder2Kill and share their experiences as encouragement. The phone call with your childhood role model that after 20+ years, still has amazing advice to share. The perfectly-timed signs from Heaven that God has a pretty amazing Director of Personnel as one of his angels now.

I owe so much too so many people. Thank You will always inadequately express what each of you did for us throughout the last few months. This journey is a testament to the hidden blessings that are in store for each of us. It has been scary at times, but I believe that I’m stronger yet more humble for this experience. As a family we are closer than ever, although we’ll be separated over the next few months. Many overwhelming logistics yet to figure out, but that is balanced by a sense of calm that only follows a storm. You all enabled us to be harder2kill, and for that, words of appreciation will always be inadequate.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nuclear Day

On December 30th the job I dearly loved ended with a dreadfully robotic, “We wish you well in your future endeavors.” The following weeks were spent in phases very similar to a failed relationship. I was hurt, angry, fearful, blaming myself while retracing every step/decision along the way.  As a family we were forced to plan out what we dubbed as our "Nuclear Plan". That is the plan for what you will do when your life hits the financial bottom. At the end of that exhausting effort, we realized something. We were so blessed. Our “Nuclear Plan” didn’t completely suck. It wouldn’t have been fun, but on detonation day we would have survived and life would have continued to be stable for our children. That was our main goal. Houses, cars, boats, lifestyle & social amenities – you realize don’t matter. When all the material/lifestyle pressures strip away you can more effectively focus on the core needs. I’ll forewarn you, going through an exercise like that is nothing short of a mental wring out, but it was also empowering for us. Once we knew we had a plan that accounted for the worst “what ifs” we could imagine, all of that negative angst and energy could be refocused towards the positive things like figuring out my next career move.

Once we had freed ourselves from fearing the worst, we could finally begin to hope for the best. Numerous opportunities were very promising and the potential employee/employer courtship was well underway for the top few. It was a process that moved in waves. There was a lot of hurry up and wait. I don’t wait well, so my waiting time was filled with prep work. I’ve supported sales teams throughout my career, so I started approaching my job search as a sales effort. Stuffing the funnel at the top, trickle marketing for opps in the mid-funnel and going for the close for the ones the end of the funnel.
It was a process that succeeded for me, I received two amazing job offers within 4 days of each other. Both were fantastic. Both were answers to prayers. But one stood head and shoulders above. It enabled unimagined blessings for our entire family, not just for my career. It was a game-changer and not one that we had really planned for. The irony wasn’t lost on us that one of the reasons I lost my job was that I didn’t want to relocate my family to Texas last year. Now here was a dream job for a dream company, but once again it would require moving. Luckily, we were able to work out an agreement for a trial run, before make any permanent changes for the family. While this will cause short-term disruption for our family dynamics, I believe the long-terms gains will be worth it. The next chapter for my career starts on March 17th. This entire experience has been overwhelming to see how beautiful blessings really are hidden underneath terrible times.

There is something empowering about mapping out your Nuclear Day plan. It isn’t easy. It forces discussions that are unpleasant, but now that we have one I am unafraid of future endeavors. So much of my complacency was the fear of disrupting our life. I stayed in my last position several years too long, because I didn’t want to disrupt the status quo of our life. I no longer fear Nuclear Day and that is living Harder2Kill :) 

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Other Woman

I’m a daughter, wife, mom, friend, crossfitter and employee who is balancing the needs of other people while making my fitness and career a priority. I have a pretty defined mindset depending on which role I’m in during a given moment. But what happens when roles start blurring? I’ll tell you, sometimes the Other Woman has to show up. I’ve been fortunate to have had several interviews with amazing companies recently. Juggling it all got a little blurry at times, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So if you know me, you know what Billy Up! means to me. Over the last two months I’ve used that battle cry to tackle challenges, have difficult conversations and do deep soul searching for what is important for my family.

My recent interviews were amazing experiences, and I attribute so much to an army of prayer warriors and cheerleaders in my life. But I think a key difference for me during those interviews was to bring the Other Woman with me. Let me tell you about her, because you likely have one too. The Other Woman exist in all women. She’s the person that kicks in and handles 80 things simultaneously. She’s the one that takes over during emergencies. She’s the one that that kicks ass when called upon. She's the one you want to have in your corner during a fight. She's the Mama Bear that ferociously defends her cubs. She’s the one that upon never having hiked, signed up for a Rim to Rim (and back again) trek of the Grand Canyon. She’s the one that most days has to take over upon reading the WOD board at C3. And, she’s the one I took with me to each interview. They were set up as mental endurance days as a series of individual and panel-type interviews that lasted for hours. I’ll admit, the Other Woman was very useful. Most everyone lives and operates within different silos of their life. I don’t think I’m unique in that. I hope everyone has that Other Woman they can call upon when life requires you to Billy Up!

 
Oh how did the interviews go? Extremely well! We’ll have big news to announce in the near future. Until then the Other Woman is taking a much needed break for a few days.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Drowning, Floating and Swimming

Little factoid about me. I was a lifeguard from age 15 to 22. Yep, I rocked the red bathing suit before Pamela Anderson (although it didn't seem near as sexy when I was in it!) It is funny how lessons learned during then show up 20+ years later.

Lifeguard Lessons for Life:
1. When struggling to gain control, take a breath and swim underneath your opponent to gain a more advantageous position. (Re-position and re-plan your attack.)
2. When pulling someone out that is bigger than you, push down on them first before pulling them up. (Leverage the buoyancy of a burden.)
3. When swimming a heavy object to the surface, save your breath on the way down and push off the bottom when coming back up. (Save your energy for the real fight. Those last few feet before you break the surface are the hardest.)
4. People that can float won't drown. This one sounds so obvious, but swim lessons rarely include floating. (If you can relax in a panic situation, sometimes floating for a bit will save you.)
5. Swimming through the trough of a wave is way easier than swimming over it. (Life will throw a series of waves and instinct tells us to swim over them. In the trough that wave is insurmountable. Swimming through it is easier, faster, saves your energy and gives you time to catch your breath before the next one. Swim through it.)

So there you have it. A few tips that have saved me while swimming through the last few months. Some days I'm struggling to break the surface. Some days the waves are crashing down on us. Some days I have to force myself to just float.

"You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there." ~ Edwin Louis Cole

Friday, February 14, 2014

You look so different with clothes on

Networking is apparently a more socially appropriate term for what I call Pimping. In my new normal – I’ve found in-person networking to be a highlight of my activities. I spend a lot of time on the phone, too much time on my computer and waaaaayyyyy too much time alone. I am blessed to have a few girlfriends that are Queens of Networking, and they have been vigilant in their efforts to make me occasionally swap the yoga pants for dress pants and mingle my little heart out. This week I had the chance to attend a luncheon for Women In Communications. Imagine that – a group right here in Springfield specifically for WOMEN IN COMMUNICATIONS! Who knew?

I stroll in to a room expecting unfamiliar faces – and immediately find a familiar smiling face. My girl Morgan from C3. Here’s the odd thing about seeing fellow C3er’s outside of the box. It causes you to say things like, “You look so different with clothes on!” Which admittedly isn’t the typical ladies luncheon appropriate greeting. I’ve already confessed that I speak and think simultaneously, but perhaps I shouldn’t have proclaimed that across the table. (I fear our luncheon peers might have needed a little more context behind that statement.) But it’s true – at least for me. C3 – isn’t a glamor gym. People there are focused solely on completing (surviving) their WOD. There are no Athleta models striking flexed poses in the mirrors. In fact – in true CrossFit form – there are no mirrors in the place. The people there are grimy, sweaty and sometimes bloody. Emotions are raw; efforts are passionate and let’s just agree that most of us do not need to see the faces we make during pull-ups, snatches and wall balls. Inside C3 I’m usually sweating, swearing, panting, grunting and sporting grungy workout clothes. So to go from gym rat to business dress is a real shock to the senses, but it was so great to see a friendly smiling face to welcome me in to a room of strangers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Unemployment is a lot of work

January flew by. I’m stunned with how quickly each day slips by. I promise to never cast a judgmental eye towards any of my SAHM girlfriends when they complain about not having any time. On top of pimping (job hunting), I have found that my days are filled with the job of being jobless.

Anyone that has never filed for unemployment – let me tell you – it will take 6-8 weeks before you hear anything. Don’t try to call in. 4.5 minutes of on hold recordings will end with the phone system hanging up on you. Forms that are dated the 15th – arrive to you on the 21st and you are expected to have returned before the 23rd. But not to worry – there is a fax line provided to expedite the service. The problem is that it always rings busy – even at midnight. Yes – I tried. Forget your password? Want to call the help line listed on the website? It rings busy too. Want to go handle things in person? Simply go directly to your local unemployment office as directed in your letter. Please note there are no posted hours on the door. You will need to stand in subfreezing temps starting at 7:45 for doors that apparently can only open at 8:31. Take your best coat/gloves. Think you succeeded b/c at least you are first in line? No worries – the charming person at Desk 1 will turn you away  proclaiming that you are to wait on a letter of determination via mail. Need to certify for unemployment even though you aren’t receiving payments? Schedule 20 minutes so that you can repeatedly hit the 2 key to answer 1200 questions that do not apply to you. Calling from a cell phone? Make sure you have strong signal – or your claim process will be screwed up if the call drops. Eligible for COBRA coverage? It is fantastic until the company that was supposed to deduct $200 from your primary checking account takes out $1600 instead. Please note: dealing with a company to get your own money back into your account will take 5 phone calls averaging 37 minutes each, 10 days, 4 letters, 3 different customer service reps, 2 supervisors and 1 overnight package. In addition to clawing for your own money to be returned to you, while awaiting the magic determination of eligibility of unemployment (also money that already belongs to you), you get to work closely with your bank to handle the financial fallout for the temporarily missing $1600. If you are born under a lucky star as I seem to have been, this mishap will be perfectly timed to occur immediately after you have made all of your monthly payments including mortgage. All I can say for the roller coaster of unemployment is, who has time to look for a job? Being unemployed is a job!

Update: money returned, bank was amazingly helpful and IDES finally agreed on Feb 12 that I was indeed eligible for my own money (claim initially filed on Jan 5).

Word to the wise - we’ve all been told to “save for a rainy day”. Trust me - when you are unemployed – it will be monsoon season.  We need to be Harder2Kill financially too.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

40 Candles

I turned 40 today. I have no issue with that. I’ve accomplished my goal of being more fit at 40 than I was at 30. I wasted too much of the last decade being unhappy with myself. I intend for my 40s to be nothing short of Fabulous! Except I didn’t ring in Decade #4 with all the fanfare, bells and whistles that I would have normally. In fact I turned out to be a very dull birthday girl. Like I said, I have no issues with turning 40 – in a way I think it’s cool. 40 certainly doesn’t sound or seem as old as it used to. I can list some awesome badasses proudly in their 50s so whining about 40 seems silly.

I think my dullness had a lot to do with extenuating circumstances out of my control. A temporary financial snafu blindsided us this week, and a few job leads seem to be growing cold. I just wasn’t really in the celebratory mood I thought I’d be in. Adding to my dullness I swore off drinking until I’m re-employed (like that word? just made it up.), and I spent January detoxing my body of processed sugars, dairy and grains. I was unwilling to mess up that progress - even for a milestone b'day. I ended up buying a birthday cake for myself that I didn’t eat – so that my children could sing Happy Birthday to me. They were so sweet – and were upset that I didn’t have a cake.

My entry into the BIG 4-0 wasn’t all bad. So many friends and family reached out to me that day. Some even acknowledged all “8 Days of Pam”. It’s a real thing. My dearest friends know all too well what that is. My point is – even without birthday cake, or a proper party and even with all the extra junk going on – I know I’m a lucky girl. American Cancer Society “celebrates birthdays”, and I’m aware that so many won’t have theirs. I have my health. I have my family’s health. All the other noise going on will eventually fade away and cease to matter. So Cheers to a Healthy and Fit 4th Decade!

 Ps – want the upside of my dullness? (-15 lbs J) Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Homebody


For a few weeks now I’ve been unable to get to C3. So I’ve been able to really test myself and my commitment to working out from home. With Snow days, flu, some unnamed bug, pimping, more snow days, another unnamed bug and a few exasperating efforts to receive unemployment benefits, my days fly by. I’m proud to say that most days I still accomplish an hour of cardio (luving some of my husband’s p90x cardio programs). Yoga a few times a week. I still suck at it (sorry Mom). Also – I’m blessed that we do have a fully functional home gym – one that I’m embarrassed to admit  I rarely used until recently. I look at the WOD online each day – and then figure out ways to replicate the WOD at home. Some days I’m more successful than others. There are many moves that I really need adult (coach) supervision for. So I’ve learned if I can’t comfortably replicate it – I default to burpees – which we all know completely suck (sorry Mom). One aspect of the CrossFit community is that it really is a community. With online forums and facebook groups I still feel connected – even though its been a few weeks since I’ve been in. B/n the at home WODs, cardio and dialing in the nutrition (detoxed in January from processed sugars, grains and diary) – I’m really seeing - and more importantly feeling - a difference.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Loud Silence

One of the biggest adjustments to my “new normal” is how loud silence is. May seem odd to some, but to me it is deafening. I’m an unapologetic extrovert – I get my energy from others around me. I think as I speak (sometimes I really do need a 5-second broadcast delay), but ideas come to me while talking. I brainstorm best in group situations. I talk to people around me. If you are excited, I can literally feed off your energy and get equally excited for you. Want to know what one of the levels of my personal hell is? Silent isolation. Guess where I am the majority of my day. You guessed it. Alone – with blaring silence to ignore.   

I stay busy – but the silence chases me. I refuse to turn on the TV – because I don’t want to fall into the trap of losing large chunks of time to a Bravo marathon. Plus I’ve learned – I don’t love Bravo as much without wine. I swore off drinking a few weeks ago. I could see a slippery slope for myself – and then I saw Elizabeth Vargas on 20/20 – and it scared the hell out of me. Her words sent chills down my spine. But that isn’t my point today. My point is Bravo + wine = awesome. Bravo + green tea = really rich bimbos/thugs/punk/wannabes who need to not have a camera crew following them. Also I do have a job. My job is to find my currently-hidden-blessing (aka my next job). I force myself into my office each morning and afternoon to pimp (job search), but the drudgery of silence and isolation absolutely drain me.

I give myself breaks – some house tidying, meal prep and my beloved workout break. You all know I <3 crossfit for many reasons. The challenges, the empowerment but most of all the camaraderie. I know each time I walk into C3 that I’m going to be around awesome people. Awesome people are the best booster, and the people at C3 are like a nitro-charged refuel for me. That is the renewed energy I survive on.

Exercise is the only thing that keeps me out of the dark hole, but my need for exercise has increased for another reason. Since I was the provider of our family’s insurance - I now have to achieve an ideal weight and BMI so that my family can enjoy a more affordable healthcare plan through my husband’s employer. So nutrition and exercise are even more imperative now b/c it is real money at play. So this isn’t a vanity – “hope I look good in my bikini by spring” effort. This is a “get the rest of the weight off once and for all so that when I weigh in for our new incentive-based health insurance – I’m not the reason we have to pay higher monthly rates” reality. Until I find that currently-hidden-blessing, we are a one-income family with a two-income lifestyle. More than changing health insurance looms in our future – and most of it is out of my grasp to control. I can’t control how loud the silence is right now, but what I can control is my nutrition and exercise. Until I return to the peaceful bliss of a fast-paced, deadline driven rat race – that will have to do.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

So hunting for my next hidden blessing is a lot like dating – but worse. The phrase “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy” has taken on a new meaning for me. I spend the majority of each day "pimpin" myself to an online job market. I haven’t been on the dating scene in 14 years – but now that I’m seeking my next professional opportunity – all the old stress and emotions of dating have come flooding back into my life. The roller coaster of excitement, disappointment, trying to convince yourself you are a fit for something, the matchmaking, the confidence, the insecurities and the worst - the waiting…

You spend a lot of time getting gussied up. It takes hours to research and craft company-specific resumes, LinkedIn profiles, monster profiles, career builder profiles – it feels a lot like an online dating service. Reading job postings and feeling that surge of excitement when something really seems on paper like it could be a perfect match only to experience the low of the rejection or worse – the silence. Rejection feeds the insecurities that are already festering in your mind.

In our house we use the term black hole to describe when The Hubs and I are in panic, pity and overall freak-out mode. We've agreed that the black hole has be remain tiny. We can’t afford for both of us to be in the black hole at the same time. So we take turns. It’s helpful because hopefully when one of us has slipped into the black hole – one is there to pull the other one out. It’s not perfect – but so far we’re politely taking turns. Right now the most effective way to keep from slipping into the black hole is to workout. Getting to C3 everyday has been a priority for me. In fact I’ve sampled a few class times to see which would fit better into my “new normal” schedule and definitely have found that tackling the WOD before I turn on the computer helps me tremendously. WODs are never easy – and they are designed that way. At the end – you’ve really accomplished something very daunting. You’ve got that accomplishment behind you, and that is rocket fuel for the energy that job-dating requires. Pimpin ain’t easy.

Job Dating Ad
I’m a hard-working, drama-free recently divorced from 12 year relationship (job) and seeking company that likes to have fun while still kicking ass. I have a passion for communicating, an eye for detail and an odd love for logistics. For the right company, I will move mountains to ensure the sun highlights your assets (public relations); diffuse any situation that may detract from success (crisis and internal communications), shout news from the mountain tops (social media) and can throw one hell of a party (event planning). If I sound like your perfect match, hit me up. I would love to use my pimpin skills for your company. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Future Endeavors

"We wish you well in your future endeavors." I never really thought I'd hear that term directed to me. Sadly, I heard those very words on Monday. Happy New Year to the Whites! There's nothing like standing in the intersection of Suddenly Unemployed and Scared Shitless. I've been dazed and confused from the moment it happened, and this has forced our family into serious evaluation mode for next steps. My hope is this will all lead to a hidden blessing. My prayer is for that blessing to come out of hiding very soon! But what to do until then?

My work was always more than a job - most of my adult identity is tied directly to who I am was at work. Of course I'm planning to do everything in my power to help discover my currently hidden blessing, but I'm also going to take this sudden over-abundance of free time - and use it wisely for my fitness goals. Time constraints have always been my biggest obstacle to overcome. It seems every time I started making real progress, something would erupt at work - projects, conference season, required travel or just an avalanche of four-alarm projects. Perhaps I unknowingly wished for more time - and Santa granted the wish. Regardless - I'm going to focus on me.

It's an odd sensation for me to not have a job to go to this morning. Knowing my personality - I stand on a slippery slope. I could easily turn on the TV and crawl back into bed, but I fear that will only lead to self-destruction. Instead - I've already put in an hour on the elliptical and dressed to head to CrossFit in a little while. Mapping out my new schedule - will be a balance of workouts and seeking professional opportunities and finally being able to offer school-related volunteering (something I've never had the time to do b/c I never felt I could put that in front of my work).

Learning the company you've loyally served is willing to move on without you is a blow to self-confidence. I'm hopeful the blow will be minimized if I'm seeing progress toward my fitness goals. Nothing boosts confidence and feeling accomplished like setting new PRs. Confidence that will be needed as I dust off a decade-old resume and start interviewing again. As for my "future endeavors" who knows what is in store for us - but I intend to be Harder2Kill both physically and professionally.