Monday, May 21, 2012

Little Steps

As I mentioned in another post, I've had some issues with  back pain this spring.  For the past 6 weeks, I've taken a break from boot camp and focused on walking & climbing the stairs at work.  Overall, my back is feeling much better and I'm realizing how much injury prevention is a part of the fitness journey.

Some people thrive on exercising alone - it's "their" time and they are self-disciplined, dedicated and focused to make it happen.  I am quite the opposite - I tend to push myself harder and do better when I am part of a group.  Even if the exercise does not involve interaction with others,  I find it easier to find my zone and give 110%.  I still consider the exercise time "my time" because after all - I am doing this for me  (seriously, why else would I get up at 5am).  

Fortunately, my weight is holding steady in a range that I'm comfortable in.  If you haven't tried My Fitness Pal,  I highly recommend it.  It's a great site for logging your daily food journal and exercise as well  & I love the smart phone app for it.

Do you exercise best alone or in a group?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Graduation Day

I could not have asked for a more perfect graduation day!  The sun was shining with a light breeze.  The campus looked even more spectacular than usual.  I was in the presence of family and faculty who had helped make the dream become a reality.  I was overwhelmed with many emotions, on the verge of tears many times; but I managed to hold back the tears and smile instead.  I'm proud of my journey and regardless of what happens in life -- NO ONE can take away the sense of accomplishment and the degree I EARNED.

Quite simply, I am BLESSED!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Finish

Nearly 21 years ago, I graduated high school.  I was a nerd - I liked school & made pretty good grades.  Up until my junior year, my plan was to pursue a career in teaching.  Hands down without a doubt - education was where I would be.  During my junior English class one day we were discussing future career plans, I said "teach".  I remember the teacher (who I won't name as I believe she still teaches at my old high school) rolling her eyes and proceeding to tell me what a thankless job it was.  Now I don't know that I "heard" her as she intended me to receive that message, but I can tell you this - my dream was crushed.  I felt like a deflated balloon.  In hindsight, I REGRET that I allowed her to make me fell the way she did when she made that comment.  Suddenly, I felt like I was in a tailspin trying to figure out what to do with my life.  My parents always encouraged me to be what I wanted to be - but I couldn't erase the words the teacher had written on my heart.

I shifted my focus toward healthcare -- I quickly identified nursing was NOT for me, but thought perhaps radiology technology would be a better fit.  Problem solved?  I was accepted into the RT program at Forsyth Tech and received a small scholarship after graduation.  I never really felt comfortable in the program - almost like a fish out of water.  Once we started clinical rotations - I knew it was NOT for me.  I tried to hang on as long as I could but I was MISERABLE and finally quit.  I had no idea what direction I would go next and started working full-time.

For many years, I regretted not finishing my education.  I made 1001 excuses about why it wasn't the right time or why I couldn't go back to school.  In May 2008, my husband suffered a massive heart attack.  Really quickly, I learned the value of time - we aren't promised our next breath.  I began to reflect on my life  -- there were some decisions I'd made in life that I could change and others I couldn't.  I started a "bucket list" and one of those items was finishing my education before I turned 40.   It was one regret in life I had the power to do something about.

In January 2009,  I met with Dean Williams at Salem College.  I intended to ease myself in by taking summer classes and then going full-time in the fall.  Next thing, I know I'm enrolled full-time in the spring!   The rest shall we say was history.  For the next 3 years, I worked full-time, attended school full-time, and attempted to be a good wife and mother along the way.    It would have been easy for me to change my mind - my husband lost his job the NIGHT I had orientation to start classes - maybe I shouldn't?   But I pressed on.   The following summer he had another small health set-back - maybe I shouldn't?  but I pressed on.   I've had more than enough opportunities to make reasonable excuses these past 3 years - but I pressed on.

On Saturday, May 19th -- I will walk across the stage at Salem College to receive my bachelor's degree in Sociology.   I will  check-off one of many items on my bucket list.   I know there are many people who have questioned my decision to return to school or did not understand why I wanted to at this stage in my life.  And that's ok.  I know it was the right time and the right thing to do -- too many doors opened when I thought they were closed;  a class offered when it shouldn't have been until the following semester;  a small scholarship out of the blue.

If I tried to thank everyone who has helped make this journey possible, I would surely forget someone by name.   It is the incredible support of family and friends  and my faith that have got me to this point.  You believed in me, when I didn't believe in myself.  You encouraged me, when I needed it most.  You picked up my child after school, and cared for him until I was out of class.  You rejoiced in my small accomplishments as well as my large ones.  YOU knew I could do it.  And Saturday - it will be in celebration of you supporting me!

Some of my inspirational quotes along the way...

"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."  Jeremiah 29:11

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing, you think you cannot do" ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"I would rather say 'I did it' than 'I gave up'"

"If not now, when?"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pinterest Inspired - Entryway Reveal

Well, folks - the good news, classes are OVER!    It's official - I'm done and looking forward to graduation.  This past weekend was my first in ages without homework, writing, or planning my schedule for the week ahead.  So, what's a girl to do?

PINTEREST!  Yes, it is my latest addiction.  If you haven't checked it out, go now!   It's full of decorating ideas, recipes, style, and inspiration.  One area of our house that has always annoyed me - the entryway.  I've never felt like we utilized the space as well as we could.  Basically, you walk in our front door and there is a small alcove - approximately 6 ft wide and 1.5 ft deep.   I had pinned lots of ideas on my "Entryway" board, but this one and this one were by far my favorites.

We've been working on bits and pieces of this project for the past three weeks as time allowed, but we finally brought it all together this weekend.   I really wish I had a before picture, but for a moment close your eyes and envision a wall with a mirror and chair rail and that's it!  :)  And NOW....

 I am so happy with the space!   "Handy" neighbor helped us build the shelf out of 12 inch pine and we used corbels from Home Depot to help give additional support.  The oil-rubbed bronzed hooks are also from Home Depot - they'll catch coats, hats, backpacks, and purses.  The "bench" is actually a coffee table I found at a yard sale for $5.00 - I sanded, primed and painted it a milk chocolate color (borrowed paint from a friend).   The cushion - the foam cushion itself a friend of mine was able to get as a "sample" from her work - FREE;  the fabric is a Waverly print - I scored it for $8.00 a yard.  The pillow was a yard sale find for $1.50.  The distressed red cabinet is a hand-me-down from a friend - FREE!  The lamp was a Goodwill find from a couple of years ago.  The basket on the table was FREE -- someone was discarding it from their office last year and I snatched it.  The rug - Walmart special for only $18.00.  Of course, the dog is priceless.  :)   I'm still looking for baskets to go on top of the shelf.  I am SO happy with how warm and inviting the entryway looks now.

I'd like to give a SHOUT OUT to my friends Angie & Sally who helped me think outside the box into repurposing existing pieces of furniture; my husband for his patience :) ; and my neighbor for his carpentry skills.

What do you think?