He Sings Too: Five Minute Friday

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He likes to sing along, this last baby of mine. He doesn’t have many words (except shoe, which is his favorite thing to say), but he likes to add his voice to the chorus of little people in my house. The son and daughter are always singing. Silly songs, Star Wars songs, anything they come up with. The baby just adds his own flair to their creations.

His voice is changing now, less baby, more toddler and I know that soon he will be filled with words rather than the tender vocalizations that melt my heart. A part of me is sad as I see the baby years begin to fade in the rear view mirror of my life. The sleepy night time cuddles and snuggles. He’s always been such a trooper, contented to go along wherever we had to be. Now he has stronger opinions and he vocalizes them loudly (if often wordlessly).

I know that I will blink and the diaper years will be gone and all the rest will follow close behind. (We’re already making plans for the crib to take it’s well deserved retirement from service.) Everyone said it would go fast, and I tried so hard to slow it down. As I tuck him in at night and hold him close and whisper “Please don’t grow up too fast. You’re the last one.”

(We call the picture, the Simon selfie. The only way to get a decent picture of him these days).

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The Quiet: Five Minute Saturday

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Photo Credit: [Alan] Flickr via Compfight cc

It’s the empty day. Good Friday is over but Easter Sunday is still on it’s way. Though our culture has filled with day with egg hunts and food prep (I know I’ll spend most of today cleaning my house). But it is essentially a day of silence. The day God was quiet with the world.

The man who so many had set his hopes on was dead. He was buried in the tomb and all hope seemed lost. Saturday is the day of doubts, the day of grief. For the disciples, as good Jews, it was also the Sabbath. A return to normalcy and yet not. Because things would never be normal again.

Grief is like that. We feel like things will never be right again. After all the hubbub of funerals and memorials have past, we are left with the emptiness and trying to find a way to create some kind of normal again.

This is where we have the advantage. We know that Sunday is coming. But that doesn’t mean that we should skip the experience of the silence. I heard a counselor once say, lean into the pain, because there is no avoiding it or going around it or rushing through it.

Today is a day of unknown waiting. I think a lot of can feel this. We know all that we hope for, but it feels uncertain. All we can hear is the quiet and wonder where God is. As you fill your day with celebrations and pleasant diversions, take a few moments to think about this grief day. Connect with the pain and waiting in your own life. It may feel like a dark time. But the dawn is coming.

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 6

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WEEK 6: Three Daily Double Workouts + Bonus

Daily Double One: Warm-up then do Yoga 4 Runners and Jump Change

Warm-up: Core Wakeup

Yoga 4 Runners

Jump Change
Core Wakeup was a great warm up. I want to continue to find ways to integrate proper core engagement throughout my day, and this is a good one to help do that. Jump Change is isn’t usually one of my favorites. It definitely gets the heart rate up and the higher impact aspect is supposed to be quite good for bone density. But it doesn’t have the flow of Beth’s other workouts. I also had to do a good bit of modifying since I seem to have this uncloseable core, despite all of my hard work. But I did my best to engage and do the alternatives offered and suggested. Yoga for Runners was a favorite of mine from back when I used to actually run. But it was still a good cool down and stretch. It’s definitely worth adding to your routine.

 
Daily Double Two: Weighted Warriors and Kelly’s Core Cardio

I loved revisiting Kelly’s Core Cardio and it was a perfect way to warm up for Weighted Warriors. I chose to use my lighter three lb weights since I knew I had lost some momentum during our weeks of illness. I probably could have gone a little heavier, but I decided to focus more on proper form and alignment. A great workout emphasizes just a handful of yoga movements but adding weights to increase the difficulty.

 
Daily Double Three: Warm-up then Wall Workout with Beth and Hold It!

Warm-up: Vertical Core

Wall Workout with Beth

Hold it!
Vertical Core provided a good, stationary warm up. I like these office routine workouts because they show how you can integrate healthy core movement. This is only the second time I’ve done the Wall workout with Beth. I definitely had to do some careful modifications, and you can be sure I didn’t end up upside down at all. It’s not quite as comprehensive as Kelly Dean’s Wall Workout, but it’s still some good movement in a short period of time. I’m not sure I’d ever do it by itself but it’s good paired with something else.

Usually I don’t like Hold It. The entire workout is focused on sustained movement. It is in this workout that I learn something important about myself, that I would rather do something hard and fast than slow and sustained. Because it somehow feels better to get sweaty and even hurt a little because it feels like a “real” workout. But in Hold It my arms were screaming from properly holding the various warrior poses. I was forced to focus on my breath, alignment and core. It is deceptively simple, because to do it properly requires a great deal of work.

 

Bonus
21 Tone Up

I love this workout. It has earned the rank of one I will come back to time and again; like all the Basic Aerobics routines and Kelly Dean’s Total Body Workout. It isn’t too long and while I appreciate the benefits of longer workouts, sometimes if I don’t have an hour it can be easy to just give up and skip it. But this packs a punch, without overdoing it and makes it easy to fit things into my workout. While it is fine as is, you can also add weights if you feel the need to bump it up a notch. Since I was having a tired day and working out in the evening which is not my preferred time, I did it mostly without.
Step & Pivot around the World

This was a new one that I have been dying to try. But since it was ranked as challenging I wanted to wait until I was in better shape. It didn’t disappoint. I chose the simpler modification of several motions and I’m fairly sure I was on the wrong foot the majority of the time, but this was a blast. Step aerobics may seems like a cliché from the late 20th century but it has a lot to recommend itself. If you’ve tried Basic Step and Basic Step II, and you are looking to try some more complicated choreography, give this one a try. It got my heart rate thumping without making me feel short of breath.
And just like that, 6 weeks is up and I’m ready to move on from Fit2B Advancing. I’m excited to come back in a week or two and tell you about the 6 X 6 Pathway. It debuted while I was postpartum, so I haven’t been able to try it yet. I’m excited to continue my fitness growth with Fit2B. Three plus years, and I still haven’t run out of ways to use this amazing program. I will always be grateful to Beth Learn, and the rest of her team for the positive impact they have had on me.

If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, I encourage you to give Fit2B a try. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

 

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The World Is Broken, Anything Else is Mercy

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Photo Credit: EJP Photo Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve heard it so many times, “I believe people are essentially good. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.” Except humans aren’t essentially good. Anything except the bad part is the miracle.
Am I over stating things? Maybe, but perhaps not. Because the world is a messy and broken place. I think part of why we often feel disillusioned with life isn’t necessarily just because bad things happen, but because we feel surprised that they do. It’s Ok and normal to be angry about the difficulties that happen in life. But sometimes that anger is really rooted in entitlement. We think that we don’t deserve the bad things that happen to us. We get caught up not so much in frustration with the challenges themselves but that they have happened at all. We want a reason, or a justification of why bad things happen.
Disasters may not be of our own direct making, but they are the result of a sinful and broken world. We are all part of that world and contribute to it in one way or another. But the beauty and wonder of salvation is that we don’t have to be limited to that brokenness. In fact, God made a specific plan to save us from it. Jesus. The perfect man who lived a blameless life and took all the pain and deserved punishment of all the world through all of time onto his shoulders. So yes the world is broken, but it is also in the process of being renewed, and reborn. So are we.

Like so many things, it comes down to attitude. Instead of just being angry when it all falls apart, we can be grateful when it doesn’t. I am by no means suggesting that we become cynical and assume the worst will always happen. But rather than when laws of entropy are thwarted and things aren’t lost, broken or destroyed, we can see in that moment the mercy of God. Because we all deserve hell, both here on earth and for eternity. Yes, I know that isn’t a popular idea and I’m sure a book by that title wouldn’t sell many copies, but that doesn’t make it less true.

We can also see the potential opportunity for redemption. I think this is what the scripture meant when it said all things work together for God for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. It doesn’t say only good things will happen, but that all things will somehow be worked together for good. We have a long history of examples to look toward.

A small example from my own life. I was very upset by some behavior I saw from my daughter. Despite all of my best efforts she seemed to be moving away from the things I had taught her and I felt powerless. A friend reminded me that while she is a strong minded kid, she is likely not more stubborn and willful in her sin than John Newton or the Apostle Paul and yet God got a hold of those men and used them to build his kingdom, despite all of the horrible things they had done in their lives. God’s mercy at work. Not based on behavior, not based on merit, but redeeming even the worst of men and disasters for good.

We’ve Got This: Five Minute Friday

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I hate that I couldn’t handle it alone. I love to write but technology is not my forte. So whenever I need something, it’s computer programmer husband to the rescue. He gamely offered to help me with some blog research last night which led to a multi-hour drama after I clicked the wrong button. (I firmly believe that everything in life should have an undo button).

Then at 4 AM the smoke alarm started chirping. Of course we couldn’t figure out which one it was. I know my husband doesn’t do well with early morning wakings and I desperately wanted to take care of it myself so he could sleep. An hour later after changing three batteries, he gave up on sleep and I crashed for another hour or two, but not before feeling guilty that I was sleeping and he was awake, headed exhausted into another workday.

I know marriage is supposed to be a team, but sometimes I hate how much I need him. Because I worry that someday if he isn’t there I won’t be able to make it on my own. In a generation that is teaching women self-reliance, after seeing other women flounder after losing husbands to death or divorce I feel like I should be able to do it all on my own.

At the same time, I love knowing that he has my back. He may be cranky at 4 AM, but he takes care of whatever the problem is. He got up with the babies when they were small, and even now when they get sick in the night. I don’t know why I’m so stuck on the idea that I need to be enough on my own.

Maybe it’s just important that I know I can do all the stuff, but that I’m lucky enough not to have to. We share the load not because I am less capable but based on preference and gifting. It doesn’t mean I’m not good enough, but that I have a partner who is equal to this difficult task we have taken on; to share a life and build a family. With God’s help, we’ve got this. Neither of us has to labor alone.

So, Hon, if you are reading this half asleep at your desk at work; thanks again for everything you did last night. Hopefully there’s a full night’s rest coming your way.

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 5

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WEEK 5 GOAL: Three Studio Workouts + One Daily Double + One Wellness Day

 

Studio Workout One: Functional Workout I

This workout is another good opportunity to incorporate weights, though this time I opted to use my lighter set. I had a bit too many reverse lunches for me though. While it definitely got my muscles working, it left me feeling strong enough to help my husband shovel our driveway for an hour later the same day.

 
Studio Workout Two: Warm-up for 5 minutes then Gentle Blend

Warm-up: Totally Transverse II

Gentle Blend

I feel like you can never go wrong with warming up with one of the Foundational Five. On the other hand, I know this is meant to be a gentle workout, but wow did I feel it the next day. Gentle Blend is always very challenging to my glutes and is a killer side leg series. But it is also a good way to start doing slightly longer workouts.

 
Studio Workout Three: Warm-up for 5 minutes then TummySafe Kickboxing

Warm-up: Mula Bandha

Tummysafe Kickboxing
It has been a while. Tummysafe Kickboxing used to be one of my favorite workouts. But this time it really kicked my butt. (Ok, it may still be a favorite but I don’t remember it making me sweat so much.) I chose something without heavy upper body work for today since I have a strained muscle in my neck and upper back. I was able to get the full cardio I needed without aggravating my sore muscles.
My one year old now recognizes the opening Fit2B music and immediately comes over to check out the workouts. He began squealing with delight when the dog and cat made their appearance. So this workout was a hit with both participants and bystanders.

 
Wellness Day: Simply Stretching before or after a 15-30 minute walk/jog. 

Simply Stretching

Walking Workout

I used the walking workout in lieu of an actual walk given the late snow that hit our region. I did it with my light (3 lb weights) and it definitely provided a nice cardio and some good weight work.

I’ll admit that I tend to skip stretching days. I always plan to include at least one each week, but that often ends up being the day I miss. (Realistically, 4-5 workouts a week is usually what I can manage, at least until I start consistently getting up at 6 again. Ugh.) But I was very glad for the reminder to stretch. While it is a bit longer than I usually prefer for a stretching only workout, I found it very helpful in working my typical tight spots.

 
Daily Double: Totally Transverse and Love Handles Lost

Totally Transverse is a great reminder of how I should be engaging my transverse and maintaining my alignment throughout the day. Love Handles Lost This is not a hard workout, perse, but I find it to be effective. I was able to properly engage, but I didn’t feel I was overtaxed. After feeling unexpectedly challenged by Gentle Blend, this felt very satisfying.

I had to really prioritize exercise this week, in addition to trying to get my healthy eating back on track. It’s amazing how easy it is to let things go and it can be so difficult to work my way back again. But it matters so much to be that I be strong and healthy enough to take care of my family and live the life I aspire to. Here comes Week 6, almost done and ready to move on and up to something more challenging, but only if I feel ready.

 

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Keep Dreaming

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Photo Credit: jeronimoooooooo Flickr via Compfight cc

 

My husband and I were having a conversation the other night about dreams. Because we’ve just come through a season of survival mode. Looking back I almost can’t believe how long it lasted. I began packing up my house last summer, we made an offer on a new house in October and didn’t get a signed lease for our old house (now the rental property) until early December. Now we are starting into April and while my house is becoming livable, it is also still full of boxes. I’m still struggling with getting back to a routine and making sure all the necessities are covered.

While the whole moving process was a big part of our future dreams, during that time many other things had to be pushed to the side. We are both creative people and our creative activities have always been a big part of our personal self care. But during this survival mode season, much of that has had to take a back seat. Suddenly, the long term dreams and aspirations surrounding those creative endeavors seem like lost and forgotten dreams.

I was lamenting the fact that I seem to have given up on my dreams. (And that my wonderful and creative husband seems to have given up on his.) Then it occurred to me that there is more than one kind of dream.

 

Abstract Dreams

These are the things that sound nice, but may or may not ever happen. Somewhat along the lines of wishes, but I would call them more than that because usually we have invested a great deal of thought, and sometimes even preliminary plans into these dreams. Sometimes because they are entirely outside of our control (like winning the lottery), or simply highly unlikely or because they will require a complete lifestyle chance that we aren’t prepared for. My husband and I have a dream of sorts to travel the country with our kids and home school on the road. While it’s a fun idea, it doesn’t matter enough to us to do the work it would take the make it happen right now. That doesn’t mean never, but until we are prepared to take this dream to the next step, it will remain where it is.

 

Concrete Dreams

Concrete dreams are the kind that motivate goals. They may be likely or unlikely, but they meant enough that we are making measurable steps towards them. One of our dreams is to be debt free (or virtually debt free, I’ve decided to be Ok with a mortgage of some kind). So that means I have to do the math to figure out how to pay down our student loans faster than the current rate. Even if the steps feel small, they still have measurable success; even if it’s just $20 or $30 a month.

If my goal is to publish a book, reading books on writing, blocking out time to write and reading books in my proposed genre are helpful concrete tasks towards achieving that goal. Yes, given the number of people who claim to want to be published authors and the odds of being successful enough as an author to support myself and my family may not be in my favor. But I feel that even if I fail at that aspect of the dream, but in the process I produce work that I am proud of, I won’t really have failed.

I always struggle finding a balance between not dreaming at all (because it feels like it will never happen) and being Ok with dreams that I know are unlikely to happen. If something is really important to me, I need to be willing to make the lifestyle and financial sacrifices to make it happen.

 

Look Back and Remember

I also need to be willing to look back at my life and see where the dreams are coming true. My life may not be glamorous, but much of it is exactly what I always said I wanted. My desires and dreams may have changed a bit, that’s OK. But it’s still important for me to look objectively at my life and acknowledge with gratitude the dreams that have come to fruition. I have three beautiful children. We have been able to move out of our attached home into something a little bit larger. I am able to stay home with my children and home school them. These are all part of the dream I had when my husband and I were first married and I was working jobs just to pay the bills. Most of the paid work in my life hasn’t provide me with much fulfillment, but it was a means to an end.

 

Reassess and Categorize Accordingly

Sometimes we really do give up on a dream, but that doesn’t always have to be negative. Regularly reevaluating how we spend our time and money is a wonderful tool towards this end. If I believe that my dream is to run a marathon, but I can’t even bring myself to walk a mile, let alone take up running, I need to reconsider whether this is really a concrete dream or be willing to chance my behavior. Realizing that something we’ve been working toward is no longer what we want can be freeing. I can stop feeling guilty about what I’m not accomplishing and funnel my time, energy and money into something that I am really passionate about.

 

Enjoy the Journey

We also need to be able to enjoy the process. Life will never been perfect. It’s easy to think that when we have the house, the spouse, the kids, the dream job, the bank account life will be perfect and we’ll be able to relax. That once the kids are older, more independent, out of the house or we retire that suddenly we’ll be able to do all the things we’ve dreamed about. But I would counter that if something is a deeply held desire (i.e. concrete dream rather than abstract one) we will be working towards it now, at least in some capacity, rather than waiting for tomorrow.

 

Waiting Is OK

I think it is also OK to deliberately defer dreams. This doesn’t mean giving up on the, but rather making an intentional choice to pursue something at a later time. This is a hard one for me, because part of me is filled with the deep fear that some how I will miss out on the things I was meant to do. I have dreams regarding writing and speaking that are simply not possible right now. Why? Because other dreams have taken priority. The one’s involving a family, homeschooling and ministry that I am currently involved in. Because I am only one person, an I cannot do everything. (I am going to say that one more time, mostly because I need to hear it, but maybe you do to).

I CAN NOT DO EVERYTHING!

No one can. Despite what it meant appear on social media, none of us has it all together. We all must decide which dreams to pursue, which to defer and which to let go of. While there maybe be a sense of sadness or resignation in the process, it shouldn’t be a deep abiding grief. This is where may faith will show, because I firmly believe that if we seek God constantly and consistently in the process, he will be faithful to guide us. It is much easier to defer or even let go of a dream when we believe that God is faithful to guide and mold the desires of hearts into the best possible direction for us.

 

Ask yourself these important questions:

What dreams in my life are abstract?
Which dreams in my life are concrete?
Are these dreams in the correct position in my life? Do some abstract dreams need to become concrete through deliberate goal setting and intentional investment or do some need to be deferred or released as I pursue something else during this season?

Always keep dreaming, all kinds in all ways. Let that inspire and sustain you through the difficulties of today without allowing you to miss the beauty of the present.