fit over 50, Health blog, self care

Sometimes Our Mind Breaks As Well

“It’s not always the heart.  Sometimes the mind breaks as well.”  r.h. Sin

We live our lives trying to measure up.  But measure up to what?  Perhaps to a standard that was set by our parents, a teacher, by society or even by religion.   I get it.  You’re the female who works tirelessly to make sure everyone else is comfortable and happy.  You overthink and stretch yourself, because you want to be enough more than enough.  There are only a certain number of hours in a day, and you want to attack those hours.  No regrets.  At the end of the day, when your head finally hits the pillow, you wonder if you should’ve done more.  Could you have been more perfect?

The answer is no.  As always, you went over and beyond what was expected of you.

But people have dropped out of your life, haven’t they?  And it hurts like hell.  You’ve been shocked, disappointed, and sometimes abandoned.  Left to wonder what you could’ve done differently.  Maybe if you’d been softer or more authoritative … prettier or more outgoing  … thinner or more educated.  What if you hadn’t lost your temper?  What if you’d spoken up about what was bothering you much sooner?  What if you’d let more things slide?  The what ifs are endless, and they wear on you.  Maybe if you had been enough, you would have been more worthy of love.  I mean, bottom line is that if people stop loving you, then something must be wrong with you.  Right?

The answer is no.  You are enough.  The problem isn’t you.

But there are other women who have it all together.  They have perfect relationships with their families and they are successful in whatever they do.  They’re accepted and happy.  You see them out, don’t you?  They’re the ones who are always fixed up head to toe, wearing a smile.  They must be doing something that you aren’t doing.  What is the secret?

The secret is that there is no secret.

When we compare ourselves to others, we diminish the grandest act of God.  You are his most prized creation, created in His own image.  No one else in the world is exactly like you.  What makes you unique (you know, those things you see as flaws ) those are what make you so beautiful.

That woman you see out and about in town who “has it all together”.

Stop.

Picture her in your mind right now.

Yeh, she’s just like you.  She looks in a mirror and sees all the things she wishes were different about herself.   She’s had broken relationships, she’s lost her temper, she’s said things she wishes she’d never said and has done things she wishes she could un-do.  She balances work and family and hits the pillow at night just as hard as you do.  We’re all far more alike than we are different.  Some just wear better masks.

Sometimes our minds break.

We forget life isn’t a competition … that there are no winners or losers.

The truth is, no one is doing life better than someone else.  We’re all doing our best.  If you’re breathing right now, you’re winning.  Period.  So stop looking for what’s wrong with you and start seeing all that’s so perfectly wonderful about you.  When you begin to love yourself, others will love you back.  What you believe about yourself, others will believe.  And your strengths far outweigh your weaknesses.  Trust that and go with it.  There’s no need to fake it until you make it, because you’ve already made it.  You are enough.  Today, this moment, you’re everything you need to be.

As for those people who’ve left you and who’ve stopped loving you.

To those people who’ve made you feel like you’re not enough.

Let them go.

There are people who want to love you just as you are.

 

 

 

 

fit over 50, get healthy

ULTA Must Haves & Five Exercises You Should Be Doing At Home Everyday

Hair and skin care are everything.  If you’re forty-five or older, you’ve figured that out by now.  As we age, our skin and hair lose their vibrance.  Heck, we may still feel like we’re in our prime, but we look in a mirror and see a stranger gawking back at us with crinkles, wrinkles, sags, bags, and drabby dry hair.  We have at least one foot in the grave with all hope gone until we discover ULTA.   (Cue the sound of angels singing)  The Generation Xers and Millennials believe ULTA is hip and chic, created for them.  The real scoop, though, is ULTA was created for those of us who are no longer climbing that hill.  Let’s stop, raise our hands high in the air, and thank God for ULTA … am I right?

Here are a few of my ULTA must haves and the reasons why I must have them:

Ulta Blog 4

Tinted moisturizer is like putting a heavenly dew on your face that will even out your skin tone and make you look as fresh and new as Springtime.  An over exaggeration, maybe … put this stuff is the bomb.  My favorite pick is Derma E’s Tinted Moisturizing BB Cream with SPF 30.  It has bilberry extract, which improves skin tone;  vitamin C, which brightens skin;  and vitamin E, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  I apply it over my regular moisturizer, which helps it to go on my skin much easier.  I apply it to my face and go.  It’s my makeup.  Nothing else.  It’s so much lighter than traditional foundation or powder makeup, and as we age, often times, less ends up being more.   You can find it here.

Ulta Blog 5

The Derma E Ultra Hydrating Alkaline Water Eye Gel is a magic roller filled with cool healing gel. It hydrates the under eye area, making your eyes appear younger and less puffy.  I use it at least twice a day and am hooked.  It’s less than fifteen dollars, which makes it very affordable.  Think of it like a lipstick.  Apply it whenever you want that fresh glowing look.  You can find it here.

Ulta Blog 6

The Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer is currently my go-to moisturizer.  I recently listened to a podcast that featured Dr. David Sinclair, and now I’m onboard with his take on the anti-aging benefits of resveratrol .  This moisturizer contains resveratrol, as well as jojoba, shea, and vitamin C.  It’s pricey, but it leaves my skin feeling completely hydrated … more so than any other moisturizer I’ve ever used.   Moisturizing morning and evening is a must for healthy skin.  I use serums as well (if you’re not using an hyaluronic acid serum, order it now), and the moisturizer goes on AFTER the serums.   Apply using upward strokes, and don’t forget your neck.  You can find this moisturizer here .

Ulta Blog 3

Are you into fitness?  Then you absolutely need a dry shampoo.  If you’re anything like me, you don’t always have time to wash your hair, so having dry shampoo on hand can be a life saver.  In addition, because dry shampoo lengthens the time between shampoo, blowdryer, and flat iron, it’s actually a healthy alternative for your locks. It’s important, however, to invest in a good dry shampoo.  If you purchase a cheap brand, you’ll find it might leave a weird residue on your hair.  For the record, I’m a weirdo when it comes to dry shampoo, so I go outside to apply just so I’m not breathing it.  You can find Big Sexy Hair Dry Shampoo here. 

As we age, not only are losing vitality in our hair and skin, but we are losing muscle and becoming weak and flabby.  In fact, after age thirty, we lose 3-5% muscle mass every decade.  Many people have the misconception that you have to join a gym or a fitness class to be fit, but the truth is you can workout in the comfort of your own home.  Here are five easy exercises you could begin doing at home today and everyday to fight back the flabs:

  1. Push-ups.  Three sets of twelve.  Even if you have to start on your knees and work up to a full push-up, you need to bite the bullet and start doing them.  Within a few weeks, I promise they become easy peasy.  Push-ups are beneficial for building upper body strength, working the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders.
  2. Planks.  Three sets on elbows or hands for one minute each. Planks strengthen your spine, your rhomboids, and your abdominal muscles, which promotes strong posture.  Good posture means you’re keeping your bones aligned properly, and that’s very important as you age.
  3. Crunches.  Three sets of twenty-five.  Crunches strengthen your abdominal muscles and core, improving your posture and balance.
  4. Squats. Three sets of twenty-five.  In addition to tightening your glutes, squats improve core strength, overall mobility, range of motion, and natural hormone production.
  5. Donkey Kicks.  Four sets of twenty-five.  Like squats, donkey kicks tighten your glutes and improve core strength.

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

Fitness, get fit, get healthy

A Twenty-Nine Week Quest Toward The Middle-Age Divine Purpose And Other Such Important Things

Is your life more than half over?  Are you having hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weird cravings, knee pain, back pain, joint pain, belly pain … aaaaaaand do you feel like everyone around you has become a general pain in the you know what?

Menopause.

What was God thinking?  Hmmmm.  I’ll take a rib from this strapping man to make a delightful young vibrant woman.  And for those precious fleeting years when she has the most energy and vitality… and when she looks her very best, I’ll saddle her down with a brood of needy ankle biters.  Then, just at the time when those kids become independent, I’ll strip every last hormone right out of her.  She’ll be a shell of her former self, completely befuddled.

Feeling befuddled?

Well if you’d like to take hold of your life this year … I mean, beyond weight loss goals, if you’d like to have more energy,  to feel happier,  to look younger,  to take a vacation,  to be more organized, and to sleep better, then you might want to join my twenty-nine week bandwagon.  Today, on this 29th day of January, I’m starting a twenty-nine week blog that will (hopefully) accomplish those things and more.  The blog will drop on Wednesdays, so follow to make sure you get your weekly reminders.

Why twenty-nine?  Sure, it might be more hocus-pocus than substance, but I’ve always had a curiosity with numbers, and they’re thought to have meaning.  The number twenty-nine, for instance, is known for telling us to trust in our own abilities when it comes to fulfilling our soul’s divine purpose.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible, coincidentally (or not, who knows?), is Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I’d argue it’s impossible for any of us to fulfill much of any purpose if our body and mind are not in sync and under our own authority.

I get asked all the time about my age.  I’m almost fifty-two, and I run two to three miles a day and lift weights four times a week.  PLUS, I juggle two very active kiddos who are 100% nonverbal, who rock an extra chromosome, and who require constant supervision and care.  “Where do you find the energy?”  “What’s your secret?”  “Would you train me?”

I had to find the energy for survival, and so I did.

Of course I’ll share my secrets.

Hopefully this blog will sort of be a training tool for those who wish to be trained.

I’ve lived this plan for four years now, tweaking it as I go, so I know it works.  If you decide to follow along, know up front there’s a method to my madness.  While I do love my family, and while I also believe my mom is one of the most beautiful women in the world who doesn’t look her age at all, I wasn’t born with great genes.  The health history in my family isn’t the best, so I couldn’t rely on genetics.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve studied, and I’ve figured out a combination that works.  It’s not difficult, by the way, but it is a way of life that requires intention and dedication.  Without a doubt, if you follow along, you’ll see positive results.  Here are the first five foundational steps:

Mel Jan 2020

First things first. To reverse the aging process (yes, I did say reverse), scientists say intermittent fasting is a key.  What does that mean?  It means you only give yourself an 8-10 hour window of eating per day. For example, your window might be 8am until 6pm or 9am until 7pm.  During those times, you eat.  Outside of those times, you don’t eat food, but you do hydrate.

When you’ve finished the fourteen hour fast, it’s important to think about the first thing you put into your body.  This is an opportunity to give your body nutrition and energy.  I like to begin my day with a glass of fresh juice.  Packed with nutrients that purify your blood, prevent disease, improve circulation, strengthen your immune system, improve cognitive function, and make your skin more radiant, my favorite green juice is a mixture of apple, spinach, celery, cucumber, and lime.  Once you get your juicer, make this a priority.  I’ve been juicing for nearly fourteen years, because it’s a quick and easy way to make sure I get my daily fruits and veggies.  If you’re not a person who regularly eats fruits and veggies, you’ll notice improved energy within days.

juicing

Along with drinking fresh juice, I eat one or two protein balls as a first meal.   I make them on Sunday and keep them in the refrigerator for the week.  My protein balls are made with crunchy peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, coconut, raisins, and dark chocolate chips.  You can use almond butter or cashew butter if you have a peanut allergy, and you can have fun with your protein balls by adding different flavors of protein powder, cinnamon, flax seeds, etc.  It’s a quick bite and helps you begin your day on the right foot.  For lunch and dinner, eat sensibly, meaning limit carbs, sugar, and processed food, and stop eating before you feel full if you want to lose weight.  Avoid snacking.  And remember, while you can only eat during your 8-10 hour window, you can (and should) hydrate all day.

peanut butter balls

Hydration.  Drinking water is life.  IF you don’t already have an insulated mug or tumbler, you can find them anywhere, and you need one.  I’ve never been a fan of water, but I drink one-hundred ounces of water per day.  I know you’ve heard the analogy of the grape that turns to a raisin when it doesn’t get hydration.  Well, once I hit fifty, that analogy got real.  I choked down water in an effort to not become that said raisin until I discovered Crystal Light Flavor Packets.  And like the fourth stanza of ‘Just As I Am’ at a tent revival meeting, those little flavor packets have changed my life.  With only 10 calories per packet, it’s a no-brainer for me.   I use one packet per mug of water, and my mug holds 50 ounces.  So yeh, I drink at least two mugs of water per day.

drink water!

And next, of course, is exercise.  Twenty-five minutes a day, five days a week, is a must.  Find something that motivates you to move.  There is a free app called Charity Miles, that will track your walking, running, or biking miles and will donate money to your charity of choice based on your mileage.  It costs you nothing, but it gives back something tangible.  What can be more motivating than knowing your work is going to help fund a cause that means something to you?  Last year, I made a commitment to run 1,000 Charity Miles, and I accomplished it.  Some days I ran two or three times a day, and it felt so good to cross that 1,000 mile mark.

 

There’s another app called Achievement , and it will literally pay you for being fit.  If money motivates you, then be sure to download that app.

Commit to run a 5K this summer.  There is no better time to begin training.  Check out the Couch to 5k App, which will give you a plan on how to make that 5k goal a reality.

I recently purchased a Fitbit Charge 3 , and it has offered extra motivation for me.  I use it to log food and water intake, my exercise, calories burned, and sleep.

Bottom line, find something that motivates you to move.  Then stick to it.  If you’re new to exercise, begin by walking twenty-five minutes a day.  Don’t stroll, by the way.   You should walk fast enough that you find it difficult to carry on a normal conversation with someone else.  Get those arms to pumping and move.  Next step, advance your walk by jogging for a minute and then walking briskly for three minutes, interchanging the two, back and forth until the twenty-five minutes is up.  Advance further by jogging for a minute and walking for two minutes, interchanging the two … then jogging for a minute and walking for a minute … and so on and so forth, continuing the interval process until you’re able to jog (or run) for twenty-five minutes straight.  The tabata app is helpful for keeping up with your interval times.

You might think you’ll never become a runner, but as soon as you start running … guess what?  You’re a runner.   I wasn’t a runner until two years ago, and would’ve never thought I’d run like I do now.  The key is to just do it.  I’ve tried it all, interval training, group exercise classes, elliptical machines, biking, running, etc.  For me, running has produced the best (and fastest) all around results.  It’s definitely worth a try.

Last step, if you are smoking any type of cigarette or if you’re vaping, stop.  Smoking has been proven to age our bodies faster than anything else.  You’re in menopause hell anyway, so what better time to give up the habit?

To recap, the first four foundational steps are:

  1. Intermittent fasting
  2. Hydration with water (and juicing)
  3. Limiting (controlling) carbs, sugar, and processed foods
  4. Exercise
  5. Don’t smoke

You’ll take these steps with you for the full twenty-nine weeks, and each week we’ll build upon them.  It’s a commitment to yourself and for yourself.  As mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters, we give, give, and give some more.  Our innate ability to nurture and to care for others is one of the most magnificent things about being female.  Our biggest weakness, however, is we too often neglect ourselves.  To put it bluntly, we suck at self care … Amen?

As a special needs momma, I was guilty of neglecting my own care.  One day I had a light bulb moment and realized God doesn’t discriminate, which means He isn’t going to give me a health pass just because I have two kiddos who need me.  It’s up to me to put in the work by doing the best I can to take care of my health so I can be with my kiddos for the long haul.  It’s the same for you, whatever your circumstances are.

For twenty-nine weeks, I’m going to push and challenge myself while being your biggest cheerleader.  I have an Instagram page called melsmiles68, which I use to document my running/fitness.  If you want to follow it, I’ll be putting occasional video on my instagram story to motivate both you and me.

Sooooooo, you can follow me on the melsmiles68 instagram page, follow the blog, comment, message me, ask questions, and share the journey.

You asked, so I’m answering.  Let’s do this!

~Mel

 

 

Down Syndrome, special needs blog, Uncategorized

Take The Five Second Challenge & Be The Change

‘Be The Change’  … Think about those three words for just a moment.

How can you actively “be the change” you want to see in the world?

For me, this is an easy answer.  As a mom to two amazing kiddos who rock an extra chromosome and who are 100% non verbal, I’d like to change the way the world too often views them.  Lumping the special needs community into a one size fits all category is dehumanizing.  Sounds a bit harsh, I know.  But it’s true.

“Down syndrome kids are always so happy.”

Is that so?  (cue rolling my eyes as far back in my head as is humanly possible).  Talk to me about how happy cutie pie is when I say no to that Oreo cookie.

“Down syndrome kids are so loving … they love everybody.”

Ummmm.  My two ragamuffins are completely nonverbal, yet they’ve figured out a way to constantly grunt, groan, and fuss at each other just like typical siblings … This is more like toleration, not love.  haha.

I hate to burst the bubble, but in my home, beyond the almond shaped eyes, small stature, and bright smiles are two individuals who have distinct personalities, temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses:

A diva who will size you up in a heartbeat, Hopey is fiercely independent and feisty:

Hopey Braids

Charlie, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different.  He’s a soft cuddle bug who’s a master charmer when it comes to getting his way:

Charlie Swing

Hopey is mischievous and funny,  while Charlie is a more go with the flow kinda dude.

Both will go outside to play for the same amount of time … Hope will come dragging herself in the house with skinned knees looking like she’s been wrestling a couple of hogs in a pile of mud while Charlie will look like he’s just bathed and is ready for Sunday School.

I foresee a day when people will automatically accept them and see them as individuals instead of brushing them with the broad stroke of Down syndrome.  When accepted as individuals, Hope and Charlie become human and worthy of identity and relationship.   Neither should be expected to fit into a once size fits all Down syndrome kids bucket.  You get the point.  Yes, both are kids who have Down syndrome … but more than anything else, they’re just regular kids.

be the change 3

I’ve immersed myself in the differently abled community.  It’s become my passion and my life.  In the process, I’ve made very real friendships with many adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Just like Hope and Charlie, each are unique in every sense of the word.  Through my own relationships and experiences with these amazing individuals , my desire has grown for others to see what I see.  All people, regardless of ability or disability, are much more alike than different.  Whether differently abled or not, for instance, we all love the anticipation that comes with Christmas Eve, how sand feels when squished between our toes, the view from a mountain peak, time spent around a campfire with friends, a sloppy kiss from the family dog, a new pair of jeans that fit just right, the crisp edges of a fresh baked brownie … am I right?

At the same time, though, we are all a bit different.  Some of us are born Chatty Cathy’s while others are excellent listeners.  Some of us are athletic while others are artistic.  Some of us have arms and legs … others were born without limbs.  Some of us have brown eyes, and some have blue.  Well … in the same way, some folks were born with an extra chromosome, while others weren’t.  It’s no big deal at all, because differences are never a bad thing.  They’re just a thing.  And those things that make us unique might actually be what make us most interesting.

I was given this shirt by Bee Attitudes , and was challenged to describe how I’m being the change I want to see in the world.  I’d honestly never thought about it before, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it.  If I want the world to treat Hope and Charlie with love, honor, acceptance, and respect, then I must treat the world, especially the differently abled world, with love, honor, acceptance, and respect.  Through my friendships with the differently abled community, I guess I’ve lived out the term ‘Be The Change’.  How I treat those individuals (since I pretty much adore them) is definitely how I want others to treat my two loves.

be the change 2

 

Here’s my 5 second challenge to you.  If an individual who is differently abled is placed in your path, no matter where you are … at church, a restaurant, a grocery store, or a ball game … introduce yourself.

“Hi, my name is Melanie, what’s your name?”

It’s that simple.

Then follow up with a warm smile and a handshake.

That simple act not only takes five seconds of time, but it validates that you see that person as an individual.  As human.  As equal to you.

I’d love to hear from you.  In the comments, tell me about how you are being the change you want to see in the world.

Remember this:  In the big picture, God never makes mistakes.  And when we choose love, we’re all The Change.

(With every purchase, Bee Attitudes gives back to charities who are making a change.  Be sure to click the link and check out their site!  This mustard colored shirt is one of the softest shirts I’ve ever worn.  The fabric is bouncy, so it hangs nicely.   Not to mention … what about that cute message?)

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

Fitness, get fit, running

2 Tips 2 Help You Get Moving

“In January of 2017, I became a runner”  … Let me tell you, those are words I never thought I’d say.  Fitness has always been a part of my life, but whenever anyone would mention running, I’d quickly shut it down.  Can you relate?  I mean, running is hard.  Runners are known for saying it’s more mental than it is physical, but when I try telling that to my legs, they just don’t listen.  “Hello?  Legs?  No worries, because this running gig is all mental.”  haha.  Nope.  Running really hurts and never gets easier.

Last year, I turned fifty (which wasn’t nearly as scary as expected) and ran thirteen races (which was every bit as scary as expected), proving age is just a number.  As it turns out, an old dog really can learn new tricks.  Psychologists say there’s no such thing as a life plateau, so if you’re not growing, you’re going backward.  I don’t have time to go backward.  So this year, in addition to the 5k and 10k races Spring will usher in, I’m planning to tackle a half marathon.  Quite honestly, my palms get sweaty and my tummy gets butterflies whenever I think about it.  13.1 miles is a looooooong jaunt for a gal who’s only been running for a little over a year.

Mel's Races 2018

But after a year of running and achieving some goals, I know I can do this.  The benefits of running have been life changing for me.  I don’t remember a time when I’ve had so much energy.  The runner’s high is real.

At the same time, though, I know myself … and I enjoy a comfort zone as much as anyone.  Currently, 5Ks/10Ks are what make me feel super safe and cozy.  Needing a boost of motivation to run all of the extra miles a half marathon will require in preparation for the actual race, I started talking to other runners about how they manage long practice runs.  Podcasts seemed to be a buzzword everyone mentioned.  But I’m 50, remember?  And I’m not very cool.  So what the heck were these podcasts the millennials were speaking of?

Well.  I found out.  And I’m hooked.  On this show:

lewis howes podcast

When I run, I listen to his podcasts, and I learn and grow.  I get so caught up in the stories and interviews, I forget I’m running.  I find an episode that interests me, plan to run until the end of the episode, and then off I go.  Before I know it, I’ve been running three or four miles.  So, tip number one to motivate a good run (or a long walk) is to listen to Podcasts.  Use that time to enjoy being outdoors while being inspired by someone else’s story.

Taking motivation a step further, I just recently learned about charity miles.  If podcasts weren’t enough to keep me excited about moving, this app has sent me into running orbit:

charity miles logo

Get this.  Charity Miles gives money to YOUR favorite charity for every mile you run (or walk).   The money comes from corporate sponsors who are repurposing their advertising budgets for good.  It’s a win-win for all.  There are 40 charities to choose from, and you’re not locked in.  You can change your charity choice at any time.  As the mom of two incredibly cute and amazing kiddos who sport an extra chromosome, my charity of choice is Special Olympics.  Every step I take, I think about how I’m doing something to benefit talented athletes who consistently demonstrate true heart and sportsmanship.  Love, love, love this!  I logged 24 miles this week for Special Olympics, and it feels good!!!

mel charity miles 3

According to Tony Robbins, the secret to living is giving.  I completely agree with him.  When we give back, it reminds us of our truest purpose and motivates us to be more productive.  So find a podcast that will encourage you to be a better version of you, and then upload Charity Miles, get moving, and be a better version of you.

These are two tips that keep me moving.  What motivates you to get fit and stay fit?  Share in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you.

Just my thoughts.

~Mel

christian blog, Down Syndrome, Fitness, get fit, Health blog, self care

How A Special Needs Mom Fought Loneliness With Three Easy Steps … and Won!

kuhl jacket 4

I’ve been a special needs mom to a princess who rocks an extra chromosome for more than 13 years, and thanks to the miracle of adoption and a red-headed cheese puff who also rocks that extra something, I’ve been a special needs mom to two kiddos for 10 years.  Both are non-verbal, and both are a handful of mischief, drama, and constant giggles.  Like typical siblings, they fuss with each other (which amounts to grunting back and forth for what seems like an eternity at times).  They take things from each other, occasionally pinch one another, and even manage to tell on each other.  Picture little man grabbing my hand and pulling me to his big sister, then bursting into tears … while at the same time, big sister rolls her eyes and looks away.  Yep.  She’s usually guilty.

hope and charlie with momma!

Neither can take care of any of their needs independently.  They rely on me completely.  I dress them, bathe them, feed them, put them to bed, and read their minds (at least I try).  I talk to them, filling in their quiet with my own version of what they’d probably like to say if they had a voice.  Hopey has a high cartoon voice when I speak for her.  She thinks it’s hilarious, especially when I roll my eyes, stomp my foot, and act like a true teenage girl.  For Charlie, I use a sweet baby voice … because he’ll always be the baby of the family.

We try to agree on music in the car.  If I choose a Luke Bryan or Bruno Mars song, we’re always good.  But when I step outside the box, they sometimes break down into sobs.  We try to agree on clothing choices, but they’ve been known to rip off their clothing just as I finished getting it on their wriggling bodies.  Charlie, for added affect, likes to throw his shirt across the room.  Uhhhhhm, I guess you don’t like the shirt choice, dude?  haha.  (Did I mention they are full-on drama?)  I can laugh about it now.  I mean, c’mon, it’s funny.

The stress level of a special needs mom has been likened to the stress level of a combat soldier.  I’m convinced it isn’t necessarily because the role is so difficult, but because special needs moms never feel like they’re doing enough for their kiddos.  We question ourselves constantly.  Have we provided enough opportunities?  Therapy?  Education?  Are we feeding them too much?  Are they exercising enough?  Did I remember to double lock the doors so she can’t escape during the night?  Is his sniffle worth a doctor’s appointment?  Or is the risk of him catching something worse too great for that appointment?  And don’t even get me started on how much we worry about our child’s future.  Honestly, our minds never shut off.

There was a time when I was so caught up in figuring out how to be a special needs mom that I forgot how to live.  Unintentionally, I closed doors on friends and family who’d been in my life for years, because I felt they couldn’t possibly understand my new normal.  One day, I awoke to an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and regret.  I’d been so laser focused on reaching my two kiddos, that in the process, I forgot that I needed a support system.  I felt lost.  I thought I was being the best mom in the world.  But you know what I realized?  If I lose myself, I’m not being the best mom I can be.  More than anything else, they need me to be me.

I’d like to say that with this realization came a sweeping life altering shift.  As with most change, however, it was slow and steady.  I began by hiring a trainer.  I felt if I committed to her and to a schedule, I’d stick with it.  As it turns out, she became my biggest cheerleader.  Not only did she daily encourage me to push through my workouts, as I got to know her, she slowly invaded all of my empty, hurting spaces.  She asked me questions about my life.  She listened.  And she reminded me that I’m enough and that God is always with me.  Last year, she challenged me to run a 5K.  I ended up running thirteen.  She’s been my trainer for four years now, and I count her as one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.  The gym quickly became my community as I met new people.  In the process, I became physically stronger.  The more fit I became, the happier I felt.  My energy increased as endorphins kicked into high gear, I went from a size 8 to a size 4, and then one day I realized I felt like myself again.  It had been years.

tonya and me --- hot chocolate race 2018

Around the same time, I decided to open my home once a month to a group of my best buddies for a pizza party and karaoke.  They are all so much fun, I knew they’d usher happiness right into my life on a regular basis.  And they never disappointed.  What I didn’t expect, though, was what a tremendous role their parents would play in my fight.  These selfless moms and dads would drop off or pick up their adult children, and instead of walking away, they’d hug me.  They’d look me in the eyes and thank me for hosting a party.  Sometimes they’d come into the house and chat with me.  They made an effort to get to know me and my children.  Welcoming me into their lives without any walls, prerequisites, or expectations, they made me feel like a part of their families.

halloween pizza party

And finally, I became intentional about hiring sitters so that I could get out and do regular things that other moms get to do.  I have to say, God really showed off in this area.  I was terribly slow to trust others with my munchkins, because remember, I never left them.  So it was going to take some super fantastic girls who had a true desire to spend time with Hope and Charlie before I’d be able to leave them.  He brought me Nancy, Dana, two Hannah’s, Kelsey, Katie, Bryn, Bethany, and Rikki.  I can’t say enough about these girls, who are my superheroes.  Each wear their love for my kiddos on their sleeve.  They’ve worked tirelessly to break into Hopey’s tiny circle, they’ve tried every trick in the book to get Charlie to eat solid food (at 10 years of age, he still has his food puree’d and put into a bottle), and they’ve recklessly embraced all of me.   Whenever I attempt to show them more love and appreciation, they immediately meet we with the same.  They’re like beautiful mirrors reflecting everything I have to give right back to me.   I treasure them.  In every way, they are the hands, feet, and heart of God.

hannah and bryn

Life is messy.  There are times when we wake up and wonder how things became so crazy.  Can you relate?  But my message is that it’s never too late to make changes.  Maybe you’ll be blessed by getting a chance at a re-do.  Or perhaps you’re like me, and you’ll have to start all over from scratch.  It doesn’t really matter as long as you dig your heels into the dirt and move forward with intention.  I began with three simple goals.

  1.  Exercise so I can be healthy enough to raise my kiddos
  2.  Open my home to others
  3.  Hire sitters so I can occasionally get out

I stuck with them, continued to move forward, and my life totally turned around.  Not only am I not lonely, my life is filled and overflowing.  If I can do it, so can you.  What are your three simple goals?  Write them down and make a decision to hold yourself to them.

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness, get fit, get healthy, Health blog, self care

Four Easy Ways To Make Time For Fitness

The Cheese-Puff is nude more often than he’s clothed.  Shirts, shorts, and shoes are such an unnecessary bother when sensory processing is a daily struggle.  “Clothes on,” I say, at least twenty to thirty times a day.  Pulling a shirt back over his skinny-winny little bare naked body, I take time to kiss his tomato red hair.  Who could resist?

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Hopey dumps waaaaaaay more water from her cup than she drinks from a straw.  She sometimes pours it over her own head … sometimes over mine.  Why?  I wish I knew.  But she thinks it’s hilarious.  After the water is spilled, she runs off on her tippy toes and giggles with abandon.  “No, Hopey,” I yell, as she ditches me for the hidden shadows.  At every moment, though, I choose my battles.  And water just isn’t that big of a deal.

fitness blog 7

Bringing up two kiddos who sport an extra chromosome and who are non-verbal is challenging.  Neither speak one word, but they still fuss and fight like typical siblings.  And both vie for my attention constantly.  One goes to bed with the chickens and rises early.  The other is a night owl and is like waking the dead.  One can tag you in the head with a ball from twelve feet away.  The other can climb your body like you’re a tree and have his arms around your neck before you know what’s happened.  They try to get away with jumping on beds, climbing on tables, and rolling the house in toilet paper … every single day.  They’d rather dance to a Luke Bryan song than eat.  They’re master escape artists.  And if I leave the house without them, you’d think the whole world has come to an abrupt end.  You’ve never seen the drama these two can cook up.

I travel, kayak, explore, and dance like a fool with Hope and Charlie.  My life is so much fun, but it can also be chaotic.   And hard.  If I didn’t take time to be on top of my game, I’d be overthrown in a minute.  My secret to being the consistent queen of my brood is fitness. Exercise boosts my mood, gives me energy, and is empowering.  Do I have time to be fit?  Ummmmm, the answer to that question is a hard no.  Do I always feel like working out?  I’m fifty years old and am outnumbered by two kiddos who have more energy than a zoo monkey, so the answer to that question would be a hell no.  But I make fitness a priority so I can remain the queen.  haha.  At least in my own mind.

This begs the question of HOW to make time for fitness.

fitness blog 10

If you’ve read this far, you’ve checked off the biggest and most important box by realizing you need to make fitness a part of your routine.  If I can do it, you can too:

First, make a schedule and stick with it.  Carve out thirty-five minutes of time, five days a week, and make that time a priority.  Even if you don’t feel like working out, push through it.  Eventually, it will become a habit.

Second, plan your workout ahead of time.  If you try to workout on the fly, you won’t make near as much progress.  Every other day, use weights to focus on arms, shoulders, and back.  The other days, work legs and glutes.  Take five minutes each day for abs and set aside fifteen minutes each day for cardio.  It’s can actually be that simple.

Third, find someone who will hold you accountable.  Without an advocate who will push and encourage you, the beginning of this journey will be nearly impossible.  Your head will give you every reason under the sun why it’s not normal for a woman to sweat.  You won’t be able to sit down on the toilet seat, climb out of your car,  or bend down to pick up the quarter you dropped when checking out at Publix, because your muscles will be aching.  You’ll wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.  You’ll think you’re too old, too fat, too tired, too busy, or too depressed.  Trust me, you need someone lined up who will remind you that if you want to be a queen, you must continue to tackle those push-ups, squats, and burpees.

Fourth, change your point of view.  Your workout isn’t optional.  It’s sacred.  You wouldn’t skip eating or sleeping.  You wouldn’t miss an episode of The Bachelor or that Starbucks visit with your college roomie.  With statistics overwhelmingly proving how a regular fitness routine boosts your health and increases longevity, why wouldn’t it be sacred?  It’s a no-brainer, and can be achieved with only 35 minutes per day.  Yassssss, Queens (and Kings)!!!!

Here’s a quick 35 minute routine to get you started:

Download Tabata Stopwatch Pro

Settings:

  • Initial Countdown = 5 seconds
  • Exercise Interval – 25 seconds
  • Rest Interval = 10 seconds
  • Number of sets:  30

 

Week 1:  

(Use your Tabata stopwatch with the settings above.  It will prompt on when to begin each exercise and when to rest … Just do as many reps as you can within the exercise interval, making sure to implement correct form.  Don’t rush.)

Arm Day:

  1. Bicep Curl and Overhead Press
  2. Tricep Dips
  3. Bent Over Flies
  4. Chest Press (lie on mat or on bench)
  5. Chest Flies (lie on mat or on bench)
  6. Skull Crushers (lie on mat or on bench)

Leg Day:

  1. Prisoner Squats
  2. Front Kicks
  3. Side Lunges
  4. Squat Jumps
  5. Donkey Kicks
  6. Walking Front Lunge

Fifteen minutes of cardio:

Walk three minutes, jog three minutes, walk three minutes, jog three minutes … alternating until you’ve completed fifteen minutes.  Go as hard as you can.

Five Minute Abs:

  1. 20 crunches
  2. 20 crunches with legs bent into stomach
  3. 20 crunches with right leg up in the air / left leg still crunched to stomach
  4. 20 crunches with left leg up in the air / right leg still crunched to stomach
  5. 20 crunch toe-taps (crunch legs into stomach, then extend legs down to tap floor)
  6. 20 crunches (cross right leg over left knee — bring left elbow to right knee)
  7. 20 crunches (cross left leg over right knee — bring right elbow to left knee)
  8. 20 bicycle crunches
  9. Two 30 second elbow planks 

PLEASE send me a private message if you have any questions … or feel free to comment.  I’ll be your advocate, your cheerleader, and your go-to!!!

fitness blog 5

Just my thoughts!

Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer getaway, treehouse getaway, treehouse vacation

Running To The Treehouse

treehouse 12

A common thread weaved through the best fiction ever written is truth.  A place of authenticity stripped down to the bare bones, laid out for the world to devour.  The reader connects, not to the words, but to the spirit behind the words.  The author’s soul.

Winnie the Pooh, who had the coolest treehouse of all, is a series of tales based on a real bear.  Each of his friends … Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Christopher Robin, Kanga, and Roo … were based on actual people.  That’s why the story affects us.  Infects us.  With hope, dreams, and memories of yesteryear when life was much simpler.  It’s genuine, and as humans, we long for things that are real.

This past weekend, I escaped to a real life treehouse.  Out in the middle of what appears to be a world of its own, perched within the safe confines of four towering pines, is Morrison’s Treehouse Getaway.  It’s not a place to go when you’re running away from something, but a place you run to … because something you long for is missing.

 

Remember when summer meant exploring a grand forest?  It may have been half an acre of woods behind your house, but through eyes that have yet to be jaded, those straggly trees provide hours of fantasy.  Climbing on rocks.  Collecting treasures in your pocket that you’ve picked up from around the base of evergreens.  Splashing in a creek.  Returning home for dinner, covered head to toe in dirt and grass stains.  Staying up late, lying outside on the ground, sharing your heart with your best friend … paying no attention to the time or how much sleep is needed before greeting the rising sun.  Just living life.

 

If the best tales are written from an honest place that has been stripped down … then perhaps the best memories are written in a similar way.  When our surroundings are stripped down and laid bare.  A few days without Netflix, cell phone coverage, and the need for a car.  Allowing our truest selves to shine forth.  Re-discovering what we knew in our youth.  This world is what we make it, and we have the power to write our own stories every day.

 

The best thing about Morrison’s Treehouse is that it’s simple.  Yes, it’s beautiful in every way, but in a very relaxing sort of way.  The owners have gone to great lengths to make the space comfortable and welcoming.  It feels like home.  They open the door, and have left it up to the visitors to find their way.

 

On our journey, we sang songs on the grand deck around a fire.  We explored the stream, climbed on rocks, and made our way down every trail.  We saw bear prints and imagined how big the bear might be.  The girls slept in the loft above me, and when lights were out, we stayed up late into the night talking about nothing … and everything … not paying attention to how much sleep we might need until the sun rose to bring on the morning.  For a couple of days, we unplugged from life and reunited on a different level.  On the base human level we all share, regardless of whether we’re family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers.

“…what I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and you go and do it.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing right now.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.

“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

~A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

treehouse 22
Run to the treehouse!
Run to the treehouse!
Run!
Just my thoughts,
~Melanie

 

summer getaway, Travel, Vacation

A Perfect Weekend Getaway — Bear Lake Reserve

With temperatures as hot as Hades in the Tennessee valley, the kiddos and I packed up and headed toward the Blue Ridge Mountains for a weekend getaway.  A quick google search on VRBO for properties that included mountains, a lake, and a swimming pool led us to a brand new destination spot:  Bear Lake Reserve

bear lake 4

Tucked high up in the North Carolina peaks at an elevation of 2600 feet, this 2,100-acre gated community is spectacular.  Upon entering, you feel like you’ve escaped into a whole other world where you are immediately welcome and among friends.  The resort offers a full-service restaurant, a nine-hole golf course, two swimming pools, 20 miles of hiking trails, a game room, a fitness facility, and a daily list of planned activities for kids and families.

bear lake 5

The heart of the community, though, is a glassy 500 acre lake hedged by majestically tall mountain tops that jut from the ground like a royal crown, surrounding the pristine water.  Reaching out to meander in and out of hidden forest coves, this lake is dotted with a small island that offers the simple thrill of a rope swing.  Bear Creek calls for you to enjoy her cool temperatures, offering fishing, boat rentals, wave runners, kayaks, and paddle boards.  She doesn’t disappoint.

bear lake 7

I decided I might as well let my rowdy ragamuffins take in everything the lake had to offer.  The wave runners were brand new and very quick, giving us a full-on fast adventure … while paddle boards and kayaks urged us to slow down and soak in the beauty of the day and early evening.  The rental rates are reasonable, and the supply is plenteous.  Hope and Charlie enjoyed it all.

bear lake 12

Since we were only going to be staying for a weekend, we never left the Bear Lake Reserve property.  The Lake Club, a 14,000 square foot rock faced facility, has three restaurants and provided one big meal a day for us.   Their menu has everything from burgers and wraps to shrimp & grits and tenderloin.  Want to eat by the pool?  No problem.  But they also offer dining on an outside deck overlooking the lake or in their upscale restaurant space.  And at night, even in the summer, the temps are cool enough for fleecy sweatshirts and fireside chats.  With large stone fireplaces strategically placed on the lodge property, visitors can always find a warm spot to sit and relax.

bear lake 22

The pool area is vast.  There is a poolside grill, an abundance of lounge chairs and fresh towels, and a staff that waits on you hand and foot.  You can even have a poolside massage if you schedule one.  I can’t say enough about the staff … they are kind and eager to assist.  And as far as accommodations go, we chose a two bedroom condo.  Only a couple of minutes from the lodge, it was a perfect location.  I found the owner through VRBO , and she was a dream to work with.

 

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway that feels like a true escape from reality, I’d highly recommend Bear Lake Reserve.  Peace has been created with great intention, from the choice of music that plays through the speakers to the gorgeous flowers that line every path.  The WiFi works great at the lodge, but not really anywhere else on property, which gives much needed unplugged time.  Honestly, this place will exceed all of your expectations.

Just my thoughts.

~Melanie