The One That Got Away

Opportunity wooden sign with a beach on background

Whether it was the missed connection, the dream job, the international man of mystery, the lady in red, the big fish, or the 200+ inch, double drop tine buck**, nothing haunts us quite like the one that got away.

Having lived long enough to have made my share of questionable decisions, the best decision is to have no regrets.

If in the agony and urgency of attempting to make a life-changing decision I can remind myself there is not just one perfect soul mate, one perfect job, or one chance of a lifetime, this is easier.

Granted, these opportunities are rare. But I’ve come to trust that what is meant for me has a curious way of circling back around.

Through a series of outrageous occurrences, I was invited to Miami Beach for a creative writing residency by the founder and creative director of one of the world’s finest greeting card companies. The chance to spend a little time writing cards at the beach escalated into an opportunity to become an integral part of the company.

Anyone who knows me knows being part of a creative team of writers and artists and brilliant minds is a dream come true.  Everything about this opportunity beckoned me.  Exceptional people.  Exceptional place.  Exceptional potential.

Except for the equal and opposite dream I have been quietly crafting in my own back yard.

Before I had a home, a husband to be, and a steady job that supports my writing habit and frequent flights of fancy, I would often imagine in detail what a free-spirited, super successful, single person’s writing life should look like.

Suffice it to say, it looked like what I was now being offered. Living the dream for a few days was intoxicating.

Returning to the reality of my regularly scheduled life was excruciating.  Not because it isn’t alluring in its own right, but because I had been unequivocally altered.  Only those closest to me knew to what extent.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t reconcile the gap between achieving what I’ve always wanted professionally and the price it would exact personally.

In getting a glimpse of this parallel life in all its glory, I got that my dreams must evolve as I do.  Like an app on an iPad, I must update them regularly in order to address the glitches I fail to factor in when I originally envision them.

Life-changing decisions are not meant to be easy.  By their very nature they urge us to evaluate everything, question our assumptions, check our egos, inventory what’s important, and listen deeply to our own wisdom.

They are designed to wreak havoc.  They are going to cause some grief since something has got to give and some things have got to go.

Adding to the pressure, they are usually time-sensitive and affect other unsuspecting people.

We remember the one that got away with such angst because he/she/it catapulted us out of our comfort zone and demanded we address our soul’s deeper yearnings.

Whether we act on the invitation, take a leap of faith, and change our current trajectory or not, the real gift is conjuring up the courage to consider doing so.

To feel deeply, love flat out, and shamelessly want what we want reminds we are alive with infinite input into how we live our lives.

Living this way is both exhilarating and exhausting.  And will undoubtedly define us as the one that got away in someone else’s story.

Now go.  Discover creative ways to live your updated, awe-inspiring dream.  Live large in small areas of your life.  Or go big and still go home. Whatever works.  It’s up to you.

And when you get a minute, tell me about it in the comments below.

**I only know about such things because the buck is Bob’s dream.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

8 Excellent Reasons to Challenge Yourself

Comfort Zone/ Challenge Sign Concept

During the month of July I led a  group of through my Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge.    The goal was to do one thing each day for thirty-one days  on our to-do, to-dream, to-become list.  These things needed to be small steps that didn’t require a lot of planning or equipment and could be done within 5-15 minutes. 

While I could go into detail about the impressive things  participants got done, what I’d rather share is why taking on a challenge that catapults us out of our comfort zone and into the “What was I thinking?” zone is so important.

The reason for doing anything that challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally, spirituality, financially or all of the above is because we forget what we are made of.   We lose sight of our superpowers and the only way to reactivate them is not to just dream the impossible dream but actually do something about it.

While it may seem like trying something for a few weeks, twenty-one days, or a month  or two won’t change  a lifetime of bad habits, you may be surprised what a little forward momentum will do for you.

Here are eight excellent reasons to act on your desires and take on  a time specific challenge.

#1 – Focus is required.

Whether it’s 3 days or 30, knowing you have a finite amount of time to achieve certain results definitely clears your calendar of any unnecessary clutter or distractions and allows you to focus on the goal at hand.  If you think you have all the time in the world to work on your website, draw up a will, or lose twenty pounds, that’s how long it will take.  If you have a timeline, a plan, and a schedule that’s non-negotiable, you’ll get down to business.

#2 – Resources rush to the rescue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” The universe will meet you halfway but you have to take the first step.

When you are committed to the challenge, synchronicities occur.  From random songs on the radio to books that fall off shelves to old friends who suddenly call with the exact information you need, assistance is all around you.  Tune in to it.

#3 – Activation energy is unleashed.

In her TED talk, Mel Robbins talks about “activation energy” or the energy required to overcome the inertia you will experience when faced with the physical reality of changing your behavior.

Whether that’s throwing off the covers and getting out of bed a half hour early to write instead of hitting the snooze button or walking away from the chocolate chips crying out to you from the cupboard, you will feel a gravitational pull to old habits that you will have to conquer as part of your challenge.

#4 – Next steps are revealed.

The great thing about taking the first step is that in order to get anywhere, you have to  take another.  You do not have to know where it will lead or how long it will take to get there.  You only need to pay attention and take the next step when it is revealed.  Attempting to blast through all of the steps at once is not only incredibly destructive but hides the treasures that can only be found in navigating  a tricky terrain.

#5 – Perfection is not an option.

The quickest way to learn a something is to fail a few times.  Just like getting lost will help you find your way the next time, failing is a sure fire way to help you continue to refine and define your reason for wanting to master this skill or challenge.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you begin.  But you get leaner, fiercer, and smarter as you gain experience. Or you soften, become more compassionate, and wise.

As most people training for a marathon will tell you, they are not in it to win it. By qualifying, participating, and completing, they achieve something beyond winning.

You are not taking this challenge to become perfect.  You are taking this challenge to become more of who you know you can be.

#6 – Expect the unexpected.

At some point during the challenge something will surprise you.  Whether it is something you learn about yourself or an opportunity that presents itself, your efforts will be rewarded when you least expect it.

#7 – Freedom comes through discipline.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets to Adulthood is,  ” What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” The biggest lesson I’ve learned from any challenge I’ve completed in the last year is this.  Freedom comes through discipline.

Discipline makes those hundreds of decisions that could derail me so much easier to make.  I just say no.  Not for the next 21 or 31 days or however long it takes.  Doing what I need to do every day instead of once in a while or when I feel like it makes all the difference.

#8 – You are capable of more than you imagined.

Until you activate your superpowers, you don’t know you have them.  Until you do what you say you want to do, you’ll never know that you can not only do that, but so much more.

One of  Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs encourages us to “Love the necessary hard work.”  While it may be difficult to believe in the beginning, you will come to respect this advice. Once you have walked through the fire, felt the heat of the challenge, and come out on the other side, you will not only understand the wisdom of these words, you will be an example of them.

I’d love to hear about the some of challenges you’ve taken in the comments below.

Join Me in July and Get Stuff Done with 1 x 31 Challenge

Woman engineer with huge pencil and construction sketches at background

If you’re like me, you have plenty of rainy day and someday projects waiting ever so patiently for you to find the time and inspiration to begin.  Despite having enough rain to rival Seattle this summer, I haven’t gotten any closer to getting any of my pet projects done.

I promised myself after 8 months of participating in a coaching certification program, a couple of dietary detoxes, and the start of a website redesign, I would allow myself a little time to chill once it all came to a thrilling conclusion in May.

Since a body at rest tends to stay at rest, I feared a few weeks of R & R could turn into an entire summer.  Fortunately, the opposite is also true.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

With that idea I am challenging myself and anyone who cares to join me, to a Get Stuff Done 1×31 Day Challenge starting today.  Yes, today.  Carpe diem!

After talking with my friends Ann (aka Annspiration) and Gillian (who does Get It Done Fun Day coaching) over the weekend, I decided deliberate, intentional action is needed to move my life forward, not in leaps and bounds, but inch by inch.

So here’s the plan and I hope you’ll join me.

I’m picking one thing on my to-do, to-dream, to-become list and committing to do it each day in July.  It has to be something I can do or at least initiate in a relatively short period of time – say 5-15 minutes – and does not require in depth planning, deep thought, or sophisticated equipment. Otherwise I will find an excuse not to do it.  You will too. Trust me on this one.

For example, today I need to call the phone company.  I recently broke up with my cable provider and am now enjoying a cable free summer, but still have the daunting task of sorting out the bill with Century Link.  I tried the online chat the other day and got the worst customer service ever, so today I have to call them up and get to the bottom of things since my cable was bundled with my internet and phone service.

Putting it off does me no good.  It actually drains my energy.  Add enough of these subtle energy vampires to a day and I’m exhausted before I’ve even done anything.

But if I assign one of them to each day this month instead of attempting all of them at once, I’m much more likely to do them.  And knowing I will do them on their assigned day means I don’t have to obsess about them until it’s their day.

I’m asking for your help because it’s way more fun to do this with others and we’re more likely to do these things when we’re accountable to each other.

How do you join me on the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge?

You have a couple of options.  You can either email each day at penny@wellpower.com with what you did or you can hop over to Facebook and join my Get Stuff Done 1×31 group.  If you don’t like Facebook let me know if there is another format you like better and I’ll do my best to figure that out.  Or just leave your comment below about what you are going to do today.

Remember… just one small doable thing.  Fifteen minutes or less.

Let’s do this!

Shut Up and Dance With Me

Couple of blue footed boobies performing mating dance

Before discovering Sirius XM and the singers and songwriters on the Coffee House, I was stuck in the 80s musically.  Of this, I am not particularly proud.

Today I can easily sing along with almost any song because I absolutely love discovering new music. And let’s face it, I have a lot of catching up to do.

According to JibJab, the song of the summer is Shut Up and Dance With Me.  Although I prefer the less offense directive “shut it” to “shut up”, it’s a very catchy tune and often times the only way to get someone you love on the dance floor.

One of the benefits of having over seventy needles poked in my face, ears, fingers, toes, arms, legs, and belly on a regular basis is not just the elimination of my allergies, but the triumphant return of Mr. Sandman and the Technicolor Dreams. In other words, I’m sleeping like a baby after decades of disturbed sleep.

Like Joseph, another Technicolor dreamer, my dreams are worthy of a musical. Based on last night’s review, my musical wants to be called none other than “Shut Up and Dance With Me.”

Actually the precise words delivered in the dream were “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”

This came after a jam packed day of College for Kids, meeting with the local press, staying late to meet publication deadlines  for our fall catalog, and deciding to watch an artsy movie on Amazon Prime, since our satellite provider went out for the eighth time in two months.

The movie was called Still Life.  It’s a slow moving, sad story about a bloke who lives alone and works in a sterile and solitary bureaucratic environment.  His job is to find the family or friends of those who die alone so he can give them a proper burial.  Unfortunately, these are usually people who have lived their lives in such a way that they’ve alienated anyone who might care.

But our protagonist cares in his odd and autistic way. Despite the depressing subject and the maddeningly methodical pace at which he performs his job, something compelled me to keep watching.

Maybe it’s the thing that compels us all to keep plugging away.  The hope that what we do matters to someone. That at some point in our life someone will hear the same beat we move to and ask us to dance. Or we recognize it in others and ask them to dance.

The problem with watching a movie or television or engaging in media before bedtime is it’s much harder for me to quiet my mind. Especially if the information I’ve consumed is emotionally charged or unsettling.

When I finally got to sleep, my own version of Still Life unfolded.  In the dream I was following a little bird through all kinds of quirky conundrums.

Despite the craziness, I remember feeling very much alive and pleased with this peculiar path.  Just before I woke up someone joined me as we were  perched precariously on the side of a building Spiderman style.

Realizing it’s all an absurd adventure that could end any minute, he smiled appreciatively and said like a true guru, “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”

And then I woke up to a chorus of birds chirping and presumably dancing outside my window.

I’d love to know how you are being asked to dance these days and, with all due respect, if you would “shut up and dance with me“?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

The Nuts Are Complimentary

bob and penny up close laughing

My all time favorite joke goes something like this.

A guy walks into a bar…

Instead of the usual grief, he’s hears, “Hi there, Handsome,”  “Well, aren’t you a breath of fresh air?”You work so hard, you deserve all the respect and success you have earned and then some.”  On and on it goes, everything he’s ever wanted to hear.

Imagining he must be dreaming, he says to the bartender, “What’s going on?”

The reply?  “Oh, that’s the nuts.  They’re complimentary.”

I love that joke for many reasons.  It’s funny, it’s clean, and like the nuts, it’s complimentary.

Who wouldn’t love to walk into a place where everyone knows your name and the very things about you that make you extraordinary, endearing, valuable, and lovable?

With this in mind I am on a mission to surround myself with things and people that complement my life. Easier said than done, of course.  But this is the impetus behind the relentless removal of that which does not spark joy.

In the past month I have deleted over 1,000 emails from my Inbox, 7 boxes of books, 9 bags of clothing, 3 boxes of pantry items, a truck load of miscellaneous garage and basement stuff, and I’m just getting started.

Although Bob is generally elated about this, when he saw me eyeing my shoe collection, he thought about calling my family for an intervention.

Shoes are sacred territory in my world.  If they went, he feared he might be next. But shoes, by their very nature, are made for walking. Bob is one of those complimentary nuts I want to keep around.

At this time of year I’m usually in full flower frenzy. This year, however, a clean sweep is in order.

My first clue that I had some cleaning to do was when my computer refused to function. Apparently it had been quietly accumulating updates and all kinds of miscellaneous clutter over the years to the point that my hard drive was full.

If it had been attempting to inform me of this all along, I didn’t pay any particular attention.  Freezing up and holding all my content hostage, however, did get my attention.

After a few choice words, I had to laugh at the literal perfection of this predicament.  After a year and a half of non-stop training, learning, and accumulating knowledge there was literally no place else for the download of information to go.  My cup runneth over.

Knowing how dramatically two dietary detoxes within a six month period could improve my health, I decided to apply the same principles to my home, my office, my bookshelves, and a few relationships.

Like changing my eating habits, changing my environment would require an undeniable reason to do so and a fool-proof plan.  These came in the form of a little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  and an understanding that in order for new things to come into my life, I must release what’s over and done with.

While there is a certain amount of melancholy that accompanies the letting go of unexpressed potential, there is great joy in surrendering to who I am now.  A quirky coach who can help people get their groove back. The only real requirement was that I do the work first and get my own house in order.

Although I have gotten my groove back, I still have some tidying up to do.  And if I do it right, I will free up enough room on my internal hard drive for life’s latest upgrade.

What about you?  What’s spurring you into action this summer?

Share if you dare in the comments below.

The Secret to Sustainable Success

front door standing welcome

I spent the better of Sunday pondering the secret to sustainable success as I sliced and diced and cordoned off portions of dietary staples for the upcoming week.

In terms of sticking to my new eating plan, the unequivocal answer is preparation. From shopping to chopping it’s all about the prep. This explains the impressive collection of colorful ceramic knives I scored for my birthday along with some bamboo cutting boards and mixing spoons.

Had you asked me a year ago if I would be spending weekends frequenting farmer’s markets, foraging around local food co-ops, attempting to plant an herb garden, figuring out how to compost, consorting with nutritionists, or getting needled by acupuncturists, I would have assumed you had me confused with my Santa Fe friends.

The truth is I didn’t embrace this lifestyle until recently when I discovered that eating well is the fundamental secret to success.

Please don’t confuse eating well with eating extravagant meals, preparing elaborate dishes, or coupling exotic spices with complicated and hard to find ingredients.

Eating well in my book means eating whole foods you can easily pronounce, readily find, and effortlessly digest.

We’ve gotten carried away with convenience, making it the number one reason we eat what we eat, when we eat it, even why we eat it.

I get it. We are busy people. Convenience soothes a stressed out soul.

But it wreaks havoc on our health. It was certainly messing with mine and I knew better. Yet I felt incapable of competing with its allure. Until I decided I must.

It’s been a year long journey into learning how to nourish myself. I’ve experienced as many setbacks as successes. But I am profoundly changed by the lessons learned and transformed by my training as an Eating Psychology Coach.

How I previously defined success has been seriously called into question. I didn’t spend forty years wandering around the desert only to get to my personal Promised Land and decide I liked it better where I came from because it was more convenient.

Oh no. There is no going back. Not even for mango margaritas.

I haven’t reached my Promised Land before because it’s incredibly hard to get here. It’s even harder to stay. Consequently, I’m determined to set up shop.

The secret to sustainable success is we are responsible for sustaining it. We have to pay attention and work with intention every day, course correct, scratch some of our best ideas, begin again, ask for help, be generous, have fun, and remember to give thanks for living in the land of milk and honey – even if it comes with a few mosquitoes.

I couldn’t have arrived here before because, admittedly, I wasn’t ready. If I got too distracted, hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, all bets were off. I had no healthy snacks and I had no Plan B – or options for the rest of the alphabet, for that matter.  In other words, I was not prepared.

I couldn’t recognize success for what it was because I couldn’t recognize myself for who I was becoming. Suffice it to say, it’s been a work in progress.

And now that work is cut out for me. It may appear to some as the same work I’ve been doing all along.  However, coming from a new vantage point makes all the difference.

After 8 months of intense training, I’m thrilled to be able to call myself an Eating Psychology Coach and passionately practice the work that’s been a guiding force throughout my life.  

In the next couple of months I’ll unveil my new website along with opportunities for you to join me in challenges and adventures that invite you to sustain your idea of success. 

Sound fun?  Hope so!  Leave your questions or suggestions in the comments below.

EPCC-Coach-Badge-500x500

The Graduate’s Guide to Life

Promising Future

It’s that time of year when unidentified flying objects are most likely graduation caps.

Many, many moons ago I addressed my graduating class in an enthusiastic attempt to say something profound about what awaited us.  The truth is I had no clue.

What I know now is we’re always graduating from something.  A job, a relationship, a role, a stage of life. Regardless if we’d rather stay where we are, life is relentlessly nudging on us to the next thing.

Several years I self-published a book and designed a scroll for a few students I was mentoring called “The Graduate’s Guide to Life.”  The idea was to share life lessons learned along the way.

Although I offered these ideas in hopes of saving them the heartache, trouble, and consequences of making questionable decisions, these were precisely the things they needed to experience to grow their own brand of wisdom and confidence.

As an educator and avid reader, I like to learn as much as I can from as many different sources as possible. But nothing beats experience.

When I used to do corporate trainings, I’d often rely on the experts instead of myself.  I’d repeat what the gurus were saying without fully embodying the message.  This left me feeling like a fraud. Although the desire to educate was coming from a genuine place, the message wasn’t authentically mine.

I contrast this with the work I am doing now with my Eating Psychology Coaching and How to Get Your Groove Back classes. I have spent the last year immersed in this material and used my own body as an experiment to put this information to the test.  I have made major lifestyle changes so I can speak from experience and understand what clients are going through.

The results are profoundly different and I have never felt more on purpose or in tune with my life’s work. It’s also taken me a lifetime to get here.

Which leads me to my favorite words of advice to any graduate and one of my favorite songs.  Always trust your cape. (Even when it feels like an invisibility cloak.)

You see, I believe we each have superpowers. Despite protests and denials as to what these might be or how to activate them, I know you secretly know how, when, why, and where to best put them to use.  Maybe it won’t be for years, but one day you will have no choice but to claim them.

In this day of constant comparison, it’s easy to get caught up in the fear of missing out.  Of thinking you’ve missed the boat, missed your chance, missed your time to shine. Of convincing yourself that you are somehow not worthy and will never have the skills, smarts, looks, or advantages that someone else has.

Trust me on this. Your life is unfolding exactly as it should in order to gather the necessary experience.  You can and will need to course correct as you gain more clarity.  You are worthy, you matter, and you have something to contribute.

Never stop graduating.

Don your cap and gown – or cape as I like to call it – and celebrate.  Then go fearlessly where life is calling you.  The world really does need your gifts.

If You Give a Moose A Muffin…

Elk in the woods

There is a series of children’s books written by Laura Joffe Numeroff  and beautifully illustrated by Felicia Bond detailing the outrageous shenanigans that follow when a child takes a seemingly innocent first step like giving a moose a muffin, a dog a donut, a cat a cupcake, a pig a pancake, or giving the mouse who started the whole thing a cookie.

When I stepped into this experiment called getting my groove back a year ago, I had no idea I would be stepping into a similar situation as the unsuspecting character who gave the moose, the dog, the cat, the pig, and, of course, the mouse what they wanted.

As we’ve all learned even if we haven’t read these fabulous fables, one thing leads to another and another ad infinitum.  Some of these things are hilarious, some are mischievous, some are expensive, some are silly, some are unfortunate, and some are surprising.

And surprise, it turns out, is one of the things that most of us try to avoid.  But according to the authors of the fascinating book called Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, it’s one of the things we should embrace in order to spark the best kind of change in our lives.

The thing about my journey or any journey is that we don’t ever really know what we’re in for, even if we think we do.  The brilliance of our ignorance or beginner’s mind is absolutely essential if we are to be open to what lies ahead.

Preconceived notions or assumptions of how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost, how easy or difficult it might be are usually based on our past experience or that of someone else.

Even though that experience may serve as a helpful guide, it will continually pull us out of the here and now if we are not open to the element of surprise and the many gifts of an unpredictable present.

For example, at the end of my How to Get Your Groove Back class I wanted to give participants the opportunity to physically experience what we had been discussing and understand what it felt like to change eating habits, improve energy levels, curb cravings, reduce hormonal fluctuations, etc.

So five of us embarked on a 21-Day Purification with the assistance of a functional medicine doctor and me, their newly certified Eating Psychology Coach.

Having done something similar six months ago, I thought I knew what we were getting into.  Suffice it to say, I did not.  Surprise!  The first day my predominant thought was, “What was I thinking?”  I’m sure the others were wondering the same.

But as the days progressed and we figured out what we could eat, found our comfort foods and figured out how to prepare them, and started losing weight and noticing a difference in our energy levels, skin, moods, and stress levels, we were amazed at how quickly we were adapting to the new world order.

In a very short time, we were able to make significant shifts in our outlook and health that previously none of us thought would be sustainable. Ironically, as much as we looked forward to Day 22, that’s when the real work started.

Like the unlikely actions that follow feeding a moose a muffin, I’ve become this version of myself I’d only imagined I could be.  I’m actually excited about kitchen knives and cutting boards, joining a co-op, and spending  the weekend tackling the clutter around every corner (while listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo).

As Einstein said, No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy before.  I just knew if I wanted to get to my own personal Promised Land, I was going to have to take a different route if I intended to get there this lifetime.

So I did what we all need to do from time to time.  I did what graduates and retirees and entrepreneurs the world over are urged to do.  Give a moose a muffin.  And let the adventures begin!

Share if you dare in the comments below. What grand adventures await you?

The Gift of a Year

patio fruit looking into camera

Birthdays are like New Year’s Day.  They are an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again,  with more experience, courage, and hard won wisdom.

This year I am celebrating the beginning of my new year in the most unlikely of places, a remote fishing village on the Canadian border where snow is forecast for tomorrow.  No part of it was my idea.  Bermuda was my idea. But I’ll take any chance I get to put myself in front of a body of water, plug in my laptop, open a vein and let the words pour out.

This past year has been an intense one for me.  Although I am impressed by what can happen when I consistently put my mind, energy, and resources behind an idea, I’m also ready for some rest and reflection.  What better place to do that than in a rustic cabin where freezing rain and the threat of snow hamper any ideas of hiking?

The last time I was here, I was not a happy camper.  I was experiencing hormonal shifts that were causing mild panic attacks, brain fog, mood swings, and general irritability.

What I didn’t know then but am acutely aware of now is even though you are told it’s just part of getting older and you’ll have to learn to live with it, it isn’t and you don’t.  It’s just that most people don’t talk about it and therefore don’t understand there are plenty of things you can do to feel better.  Suffering in silence is not one of them.

The past year for me has been all about getting my groove back and helping as many people as I can  do the same.  So many people have said to me, “I thought it was just me.” Or “I thought I was losing it.”

I found functional medicine doctors who could help me figure out the havoc my hormones were wreaking in response to the confused communications from command central. I don’t blame my brain for rallying the troupes around the wrong initiatives. I blame a lifetime of eating habits based on convenience, comfort, and toxic nutritional beliefs and generally checking out when I should have checked in and made some course corrections.

Dismantling the habits learned over a half a century required some serious commitment, along with a few costly mistakes, considerable investments in products and services, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy dose of humor. I read every book I could find on about nutrition, wellness, and becoming ageless.

A year later, after two 21-day detox/purification processes, learning to select and prepare nutritious foods, getting regular acupuncture treatments and exercise, and completing an 8-month eating psychology coaching certification program, I’m down 20 pounds.  My blood pressure and cholesterol are down as well.

Is this the best gift I could give myself at this point in my life?  Absolutely.  Could I have done it sooner and saved myself a lot of grief and emotional anguish? Possibly.  But in order to sustain this lifestyle shift, I had to understand why it mattered so much.

Although it would have helped me tremendously a decade ago, some journeys take time.  It took Moses forty years to find his Promised Land.  According to that timetable, I’m right on schedule.

There is no going back and pretending I don’t know what I now know. So though it’s been a little silent on the blogging front as I’ve been figuring this out, teaching classes, and meeting with local doctors and nutritionists, my goal for next year is to bring this information to you on a regular basis. I think of it as creating a GPS system so you don’t have to spend years wandering around the desert, questioning your sanity.

What about you?  If you gave yourself the gift of a year, what would you love to accomplish so much that you’d be willing to put a plan together now to get there?

Share in the message below.

Things No One Tells You When You Get A Dog

Bob Pen Abbey 7-23-13

I’m once again up way too early to do anything but write.

Sadly this time it was not instigated by a dog who needed to be let outside, but a dog I must let go.

Sometimes death comes excruciatingly slow and other times painfully swift.  In the case of our gentle lab Abbey, it was some surreal mixture of both.

Abbey was my sister’s dog originally, a Christmas gift for her girls a dozen years ago, who were just babes themselves.  Abbey spent her early years in New Hampshire, Missouri, and North Carolina before coming home to live with me and my dog Malcolm in Illinois and finally Iowa.

I think everyone in my family would claim her at theirs since she spent some time with all of us when one of us had to travel without her.  She found comfort in laying at my dad’s feet, riding in my mom’s car, being reunited with her girls when they came to visit, playing dress up with my youngest niece and helping my brother convince my cat loving sister-in-law that dogs can indeed make incredible companions.

She also had a way with the boys and spent her last couple of hours surrounded by her favorite fellas – Jake, Scooter, Rosco, Gavin, and her all time favorite, Bob.  She was an equal opportunity lover and rallied at the opportunity to take one last walk by the river with her pack, herding us all and making sure no one was left behind.

The decision to end a pet’s life is wracked with doubt.  I’ve had to make that decision twice in the last two years. When they are suffering through their worst moments, I am convinced it is the most humane thing to do. It becomes the most agonizing thing to do when the appointed time draws near.

I can barely breathe through it, stay in the moment, and not distract myself from the onslaught of memories mixed with fear of a future without my canine companion.  A part of me dies with my dog.

Fortunately my vet makes house calls and has allowed both Malcolm and Abbey to pass in the peace of familiar surroundings with their favorite toys, treats, and companions right next to them.  And incredibly lucky for me, I have Bob,  who bears this burden with me and lets me cling to him even as his heart breaks.

To deal with the aching absence of Abbey, I alternate between listening to gut wrenching songs about grief to reading poetry about passing to drinking rain forest tea to collapsing on the couch.  Eventually I reach for my pen and journal, open up a vein and let the following bleed out.

Things No One Tells You When You Get A Dog

No one ever tells you when you get a dog

that they will heal your heart every time it breaks

only to shatter it beyond recognition when they leave.

They forget to mention

you will continue to offer table scraps to the ghost of a good dog

and listen intensely for the pattering of paws across the kitchen floor

or wait for the delirious wagging of a tail to welcome you home.

You never suspect you will miss the insistence on a Busy Bone from the kitchen

once you’ve settled snugly into the couch.

You can’t fathom wishing you would wake

once more to the movement of dreaming feet, muffled barks,

and snores that rival your husband’s.

No one tells you that coming across a favorite toy, food dish, eye drops, ear wipes,

multiple dog beds and blankets will remind you that your life was blessed by a dog.

No one wants to spoil the ending at the beginning.

No one wants to tell you the grief will go as deep as the love

and come in waves at odd moments long after your dog is gone.

They will only ask you when you’re going to get another

and you will say never…

Until one day you remember that dog is just god spelled backward

and the closest thing to heaven on earth.

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