Balance – Progress & Tips

If you’ve been reading my blog this year, you know that my “word of the year” – aka, 2012’s version of a New Year’s resolution – is balance.
And so that is what I have spent the year striving for & always keeping in the back of my mind.

This month we’re doing a “Strike a Balance” challenge at work through our wellness program, so I thought it would be a good time to share a couple of rules I’ve come up with this year to try to abide by in an effort to live a more balanced life:

1. Weekend Commitments.

I like to have one afternoon & one evening free of plans each weekend. I love to be social & am happy with a busy, full life, but I find when I’ve packed my entire weekend top to bottom, I feel exhausted on Monday. Therefore, I try to carve out Saturday evening & Sunday afternoon or vis-versa with nothing on the calendar.

This means I can spend those times doing whatever it is I feel like doing that moment. Whether it be catching up on my current read, taking a nap, getting a pedi or massage, zoning out to the TV, calling up my mom, sister & cousin to hang out or making last minute plans with a girlfriend – whatever! The point is that I can see how I’m feeling at that particular time & do anything I want.

2.  Enact a 24 Hour Rule.

This one is simple. Before I commit to anything, I try to think on it for 24 hours before I make a decision. This is easier said than done.

3. Backing Out Isn’t The Worst Thing You Could Do.

 If #2 fails & you commit to something that you’re less than enthused about, it’s not the worst thing in the world to back out.

Something can certainly be said for relentlessly sticking to commitments that you’ve made, but when this comes at the expense of running yourself ragged, just to accomplish something you said you would do, I’m in the camp for just moving on.

Sometimes we’re holding on to commitments that mattered a lot a year ago, but we have since changed & are not as passionate about that commitment. It’s time to give it up.

4. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

I used to be a strict 8 hourer, but in the past couple of years have found that getting 7 hours of sleep on week nights is the perfect fit for me.

5. Take good care of yourself.

This may look different to different people. For me, taking care of myself means:

Physical Health
– Exercising 4-6 times a week
– Eating healthy
– Getting a monthly massage
– Being proactive on my health care appointments

Mental Health
– Having at least one evening a week to stay in & spend time with no one but my husband
– Walking my dogs at least three times a week
– Spending time with my family & best friend at least once a week
– Blogging on a regular basis (@ once a week)
– And writing everything down so that I don’t overlook an important date or appointment!

If you’re interested in jotting down your own list of must-haves for balance in your life, here are more good suggestions:

I took a look back on the post I wrote in March & was happy to see that I had completed almost all of the goals that I set for myself. I’ve evaluated the groups I’m a part of and have a plan going for going forward in Colorado, I’ve substantially cut back on my DVR time and I’ve tried to focus on the quality in my friendships as opposed to the quantity of friendships that I have, hence, less “group outings”.

 I’m still working on the early morning exercise one – but, hey, all in time, right? : )

After focusing on this word for a year, I truly feel like a more balanced person today than I was when I started.

I think balance is something that we all struggle with & strive for. I also think you’ll have it at times & not at others and that it looks different for everyone. And I hope that my search for balance has inspired you to find yours.

30 Days

The other evening my step brother Michael, Alex & I were sitting around the kitchen table talking & we got on the topic of our bucket lists. For them, sky diving is something they’ve always wanted to do – me, not so much. So when they asked what was on my bucket list I told them that I had started one about a year ago & when I recently revisited it, I realized that one of the items that had been on it  had been completed in the past year without me realizing it.

Run a 1/2 Marathon

And another one was going to be completed very soon:
Move out of Kansas
Today marks the first of my last 30 days as a Kansas resident. 
It’s a bittersweet feeling really. 
I can no longer push to the back of my mind that I can’t drive down Maize Road to go see my sister & nephews whenever I want. I can’t call my mom up on a Sunday & go see a movie with her. I can’t invite my best friend over for wine & DVR after a long day. I won’t be laughing with my favorite coworkers as a break from the daily grind.
It’s really here.

As scary as the unknown may be, it is also SO EXCITING! I’ve waited my whole life for this. After a brief escape to Lawrence for college, I’ve been dreaming of the day that I would move again. And to have the love of my life by my side, just as excited as I am – well, that’s just icing on the cake.

So for the next 30 days, I plan to soak up as much of what I love about Wichita as possible, starting with today.

Kate & I met my sweet friend, Desi for coffee at Cocoa Dolce. And I am praying there is a chocolate as good as  in Fort Collins or Denver, because I will severely miss my normal of a skinny caramel latte (truly the best in town, better than Starbucks!) & a salted caramel chocolate.

A couple of Cocoa Dolce tips: 

1. The coffee is even better when sipped from one of the in store mugs. So if you can stay & sit for awhile, do.

2. The bacon chocolate is ridiculously good. You must try it.

I also met my friend, Julie for lunch at Doc Green’s. We’ve been friends since middle school & try to get together & catch up about every month. I just love this girl.

So much of what I love about this town that I was raised in is the people. I am so blessed to have a plethora of amazing family & friends in my life & they are truly what I’ll miss the most about living here. 
But then again, they now have a Colorado connection & excuse to come visit! 

The C Word

Last week my mom found out that she has breast cancer. 
A few weeks before that she went in for her mammogram and a lump was found. She had that lump biopsied & the report came back malignent. Over the weekend we patiently awaited her Tuesday afternoon appointment, in which the specialist would tell her the kind of cancer she has, how aggressive it is & what our next steps would be going forward.
My mom is 45 years old.
So when she told my sister & I last Friday, we were in shock. And we were scared. 
It’s strange how you go through life, not truly realizing how lucky you are. Sure, you know you’re blessed & you may even be really thankful for that, but you do things like turn unfavorable situations into catastrophic problems, because you really think that it’s worth it or that it matters.
It’s like you don’t really begin to live until something like this happens to you. It’s unthinkable that someone you love so dearly could be taken away from you much earlier than you are prepared for. You take for granted life and only when you get news like this do you realize how foolish you’ve been. And you realize that life will never be the same as it was before and that you must treasure each moment.
It’s a bittersweet place to be. You’ve finally woken up, but with a price.
So once you begin living, really living, you put down your cell phone. You hear the kids laugh. You see your sister sitting happily with her husband, off in their own world. You hug your husband tighter. You just notice all of the little things that make your life so great.
By the way, by “you”, I mean me. 
Our family has been lucky up to this point. We’ve had no immediate family members fall ill or pass away, aside from the aging ones. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of drama, but at least everyone had their health. 
So this was a shock to us all. 
I am beyond grateful to say that shock turned into celebration tonight. We got the best news that we could about my mom’s disease. Her cancer is not aggressive, it’s ductile (which means it’s contained & has not spread) and removal and recovery will most likely be fairly easy. 
Thank the Lord!
We still don’t know EXACTLY what is ahead, we have to wait three weeks to receive another blood test result, telling us if the cancer is hereditary (though there is no breast cancer in our family, there is still a 1/16 chance that it’s possible to carry a hereditary gene). Once we know the answer to that, we’ll know what her treatment path will be.
So please keep her in your prayers.
This year is going to be extra special for our family as we have more to be thankful for than we were ever aware of before. 
I hope that you hug your mom extra tight on Turkey Day & look around the table, being in awe of the amazing people you have you in your life, seeing & loving them for who they are, flaws & all. 
That, friends, is my plan. 

Winston is One!

Happy Birthday, Baby Winston!
For his birthday we went on a long, fun walk in the park. You have to look closely to see Winston in this picture (bottom right).
Then we went to Pet Smart & got him a little fleece for his upcoming Colorado residency. Winston wasn’t a big fan of Pet Smart, he pretty much shook the whole time, so I had to hold him. Lesson learned. But he actually doesn’t mind the fleece…I think.
On another note, I saw dog booties. So, I win, Cory. They DO make them.
Then we had a little birthday party, snacks & all!
– Upper Left: The party peeps (or pups).
– Upper Right: Natty’s treat.
Lower Left: Leon’s treat (Winston patiently waiting in the background).
Lower Right: Winston’s share!
Happy Saturday!

Sweet November

On Friday Cory and I were talking about the funny/strange/annoying things that have happened to him at work lately. It’s a topic that comes up a lot in our house. Being a manager at Quik Trip, he has had some pretty unbelievable stories over the past 8.5 years. 
So we were driving around in Bill (our new Prius), running errands and he was telling me about this young mom that had come in last Thursday with her son, crying & distraught, because she didn’t have enough gas to make it to work through pay day on Friday.
Being the amazing man that he is, Cory offered to loan her enough gas money to make it through the week and she agreed that she would come back in the next day at 6 p.m. to pay him back.
Fighting back tears, the story sounded all too familiar to me. 
Growing up, my sister & I were raised by our young, single, struggling mother, who was (and is) incidentally, the best mom EVER. One day I remember pulling up to the gas station in our used, tan-ish gold Camry and staying inside the of car while my mom went in.

When she came out with nothing, I asked her why she had run inside. She told me it was to pay for some gas that she gotten the other day. Confused, I asked if people could do that, to which she explained to me that no, they couldn’t normally, but a very nice man made an exception for her when she was very low on money earlier that week.

My mom never spent money on herself back then and she even has a hard time doing it still today. But she always made sure we had everything we needed, even if it once meant putting her pride aside to “borrow” gas.

I have no idea how old I was when this happened, but it’s something that stuck with me today.  Of course the lesson she inadvertently taught me was about personal integrity.

Since November is the official month of thankfulness (though we should all remember to be thankful every single day), it’s the perfect time to say how thankful I am for my mother, her selflessness and the lessons she taught me.

Here we are this past September.

I’m also so thankful for my husband, who told me that he was picturing my mom with Morgan & I as kids, when he loaned the frantic mom gas money.

Cory’s story didn’t end up quite the same as my mom’s, since the lady never came back to pay, but that almost makes me love him even more for his kind, giving heart.

On a cool note, Cory DID find half of the amount of gas money that he had loaned the lady, laying on the ground at Quik Trip, the day she was suppose to come pay him back. And the world goes round…

Here we are at the Pumpkin Patch last weekend.

I hope you make the most of this sweet November and find something or someone to be thankful for every day! I know I plan to.