Thursday, October 29, 2015

cancer did not win

Two years ago today, I received a call no one ever wants to answer.
I heard the results of my breast biopsy.
Stage 0 breast cancer.
Surgery and radiation therapy needed.
Thankfully, I had begun to listen to my fitness coach, Kristine, and had begun to change my eating habits and was working out pretty consistently at the Y and doing crazy things like push ups and squats for fun. It wasn't Shakeology and Tony Horton, yet; that would come later, but I had made a decision to make small, consistent changes and was seeing some positive results.
The fast ball that came straight over the plate. Cancer.
Strike one.
I dug in deeper with my workouts. I relied on sweat, more than tears, to clear out the fog trying to permanently set in. When I was at the Y, I was in a safe place. A place in which people did not know me as a cancer patient, but just as Janet, the regular workout girl.
Then, the curve ball that caught me off guard. Radiation Therapy.
Strike two.
You see, however, by now, my workouts were more therapeutic than radiation "therapy" ever could or would be. I made time to workout for my mental stability more than my physical. There were days all I could muster up energy for were a couple of reps and some light cardio, but I went anyway.
The days came eventually, when I was too exhausted to go workout.
Radiation had taken its toll on my body.
I rested my body, but my mind was in overdrive.
A crazy notion turned into an even crazier plan.
God had been putting all the pieces in place well before I even had an idea I needed them to complete this puzzle called life. Remembering conversations had in passing with friends, reading more and more about Shakeology, wanting to feel alive again...they all fell into place for the at bat of a lifetime.
One month after my final radiation treatment, I pushed play on P90X for the first time.
I did not know what the X stood for.
I did not have weights or bands.
I had borrowed dvds.
I pushed play anyway and made something happen that I had never tried before in my life.
Home Run.
Janet 1 - Cancer 0
Where I am going with this is never know what tomorrow holds.
Good, bad, or indifferent, there are life events that are going to throw you a curveball.
It is going to see what you are made of and test how strong you are...mentally and physically.
Be prepared. Get your foundation set now BEFORE the news comes, whatever it may be. Even awesome news like a new job, moving, or a baby on the way can throw off your normal. (For the record...I am NOT getting a new job, moving, or pregnant.) Make your health a priority before the major stressors come. It is not a matter of if they come...they will come in some form or another.
Exercise and clean eating has become my new lifestyle. It helps me stay focused and determined.
Think of it this way...
You need your health for the rest of your life.
The rest of your life depends upon your daily decisions now.
Your daily decisions are composed of little choices made hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute.
My story did not end with cancer.
It simply began Volume 2 of this thing I call life.

Be awesome today!

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Let's talk about FAILURE. 
It's the elephant in the room, so to speak. It is high time to just get that elephant moving on out of here.
Did you know that failure is part of success.
Now that you are really paying attention, consider what Winston Churchill said about our elephant named Failure...
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. 
Sounds crazy, but I know it holds true in my life. I went yo-yoing my way through life always husky; a little less husky; then college added 75 pounds; kept gaining; lost almost 100; had kids and gained back.
Lots of failures in there. 
What worked in my 20's failed in my 30's, and what kinda worked in my 30's was not working as the 40's began.
Until now. 
What changed? My mind.
I whispered a prayer in April of 2013 and God heard it. He used some interesting characters to motivate me that summer to stop eating sweets, and, all of a sudden, I discovered I could say no to something full of stuff not good for me. 
God didn't leave me alone there. 
He gave me an amazingly awesome coach who offered a free group challenge to me. I discovered I was stronger than I ever thought possible. I could do crazy hard things like 100 push ups a day for 30 days...and squats. Let's not forget the squats.
Some of those 30 days most push ups were done on my knees. 
Others most were not.
But, I did them all
My definition of failure was changed. 
Not doing push ups is so worse than doing them on your knees. I was not failing at push ups because I did them on my knees, I was succeeding because I did them. Period.
Let me close with Tony Horton's view of failure from his book, The Big Picture...
There's nothing wrong with failing. In fact, failure needs a new name. "Failure" should be renamed "awesome." Everyone loves awesome...The problem with the word "failure" is that it connotes that you're a loser - and losers don't succeed or win or get the girl...As a result, many people would rather play it safe, not take chances, not explore, and never, ever stick their neck out and actually try...If you're afraid to fail, then you'll never expose yourself to opportunities for success.
We must try and fail until we see success happen. 
Transform your thinking and your body will follow. 
Be blessed.

***I hold a challenge group on facebook almost every month. I wrote this on day one and posted it in our group. Needless to say, I was surprised at the response to it. Most likely we all have struggled with feeling like a failure or fearing that we will fail when beginning something new.
I am currently struggling with the fear of failing on a different part of my journey. No matter the topic, the fear of failing at anything can become end before a beginning ever has a chance.  
I share this because I needed to be reminded of my own words.***

Monday, August 24, 2015

Game Day

For those who may not know, Game Day is one of the workouts in Shaun T's Insanity Asylum.
Appropriately named, if you ask me.
It is insane and you have to be committed to finishing it in order to finish it.
Every day of this now 16 month journey that I've been on, prior to July 6th, Shaun T and I had an's rather one sided, of course, since he has no clue as to who I am, but an understanding, nonetheless.
This was the gist of it: I don't try his workouts; he doesn't yell at me nor do I fail.
Pretty cut and dry.
I was happy. Shaun T was happy. Why wouldn't he be? Everyone else loves him and his Insanity this, that, and the other.
I feared the man and his workouts.
So, what happened that I am now blogging about Game Day?
I began Insanity Asylum. And completed it. Will get the T-shirt one day soon.
Before I get on with Game Day follies, let me just say I extremely disliked hated day one. I do not use this particular word lightly or often. It is reserved for such things as ants and being embarrassed. Asylum moved into the top 3 with these otherwise despised things in life.
Day two was okay since it involved dumbbells. Days 3, 4, and 5 rated up there with Day one.
Odd duck that I am, I committed to finishing, so I kept going back day after day and pushing play according to the schedule.
Strength, was my saving grace. If it had not been for my looking forward to getting back to Strength day, it would have been a very long 30 days.
Toward the end of week two, Game Day was on tap. Had no clue what to expect. Never looked into any of the workouts prior to beginning, so I just went with it.
Come to find out, it was 60 minutes spent doing a variety of moves from the most popular of sports, Shaun T style.
Beginning with a mile run.
I don't like running. Ask anyone who knows me somewhat well. I don't run for fun. It is not relaxing. It actually stresses me out. But, lest I digress....
Somewhere after the mile run, which I surprised myself by completing rather well...meaning, I didn't die or quit in the middle of it...and before baseball which is the final sport of the workout, I broke down in tears no less than three times. When I say broke down, it wasn't just tears, it was sobbing, people. Sob-bing. Out of the blue it would hit me. And, I went with it. Took me longer than 60 minutes to get through Game Day that first time.
Why? You may ask.
I think my post to my challenge group from that day, July 16th, explains it best...
Game Day.
So much I could say...I had some successes, had some not too bad moments, and then there was Mounted Mat Maneuver.
All I can say is that I tried that one.
And cried.
More than once.
I am tearing up again now, in fact.
All the memories of the younger me trying to play sports, competitively or leisurely, came flooding back.
I felt that fear of failure overwhelm me again. It was real. It was hard to keep going.
Because that is not who I am NOW.
Still far from perfect, anything but athletic, and not the least bit graceful, but I made it through all 60 minutes.Hats off to you, Shaun have made your way into my heart with this one. You have pushed and I have grown. I needed this.
After this day, I had a higher respect for Asylum, Shaun T, and myself.
Funny thing is that I thought that first Game Day was therapeutic and awesome and was {almost} ready for it the next time it showed up on the schedule.
I was wrong.
Out of nowhere again, in the middle of the workout, #thereweretears.
July 31st's post captures my thoughts from my second attempt at Game Day...
Game Day this morning before friends came over to swim.
I was excited and dreading it both.
And, yes, ‪#‎thereweretears‬ again. Only one round of full out sobbing this time, however.
I watched the wrestling move demo better this time and improved a little. It was certainly less frustrating, but I still have a flaring elbow giving me fits.
My endurance is up.
My heart has softened even more toward Shaun T.
My finish line is in sight.
I am crazy enough to be thinking of doing a hybrid P90X/Asylum workout next.
There are things Shaun T says in the heat of the moment that get to my heart.  My head is then fighting to deny my heart the pleasure of believing his words.  And, I cry it out.
Look at August 6th's post...3rd undertaking and final Game Day of round one:
Game Day did it to me again. ‪#‎thereweretears‬
Why? You may ask.
Because I hear Shaun T say I am an athlete and I am fighting hard to believe it.
Today I pushed play and hit it hard for all those times in life I came in last or fell short.
Not today.
I might not be first yet, but I'm no longer last.
Funny thing is that I don't hear him yelling at me any longer.  I hear him coaching me.  There is a difference.  He is still rather bossy, however...always a Tony Horton fan will I be.  But, after 30 days, I did decide to jump right into a P90X/Asylum hybrid schedule.  Crazy as it sounds, I couldn't leave the Asylum yet, so a hybrid gave me the best of two worlds. 
One would have thought that I would have made it through the 4th Game Day without tears.
August 23rd's (today's) challenge group post...
Game Day.
Knocked this one out for all the times I have ever felt like the weakest link.
Yes, ‪#‎thereweretears‬ again.
Today what got me was when he kept saying the team is only as strong as the weakest link.  The time before it was when Shaun T talked about being last and being an athlete.  The fear of failure and the continuous questions he asks during the workout, "Can you stick with it?" "Can you last?" got me the times before then.
It's mental, y'all.
Shaun T gets inside your head and messes with you until you get it straight for yourself.
Until you begin to believe the truth about yourself because you are here doing the work, progressing each day you push play, putting in your time, sweat, and tears to improve.
Until, one day, you realize you have improved.
Insanity Asylum.
It's therapy, in a curious way, really.
I feared Shaun T and his workouts, remember?
I now respectfully admire him for his coaching/training and trust the process of his design, but I no longer fear him or the workouts.
Both are effective, even if I still think he's a little bossy. {smile} 

my birthday

May 31st, 2015
Awoke to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and my family wishing me a happy birthday.
This was an awesome way to begin my 43rd year of living, let me assure you.
547The day began with a workout for me while Scott and the boys enjoyed a pancake breakfast. I enjoyed a blueberry yogurt they surprised me with and Shakeology when I finished my workout.
The morning was relaxing then we loaded up the car and moved on to the best birthday activity of the the day...a bucket list item for me...driving on the beach.  I was so excited! I have dreamed of this for years...and it came true, totally unexpectedly.  A perfect ending to our time on Pacific Beach on my birthday!
After that exhilarating drive on the beach, we headed out for another coastal city in Washington state. On our way, we spent some time exploring along the coastline of Olympic National Park.  So many cool places to see even on a chilly and, at times, rainy day.
{Side note: Did you know we had rainforests in the Lower 48?  No clue here.  I should have paid more attention in Geography class in 8th grade. #smh}
 Rain forest hikes, record holding spruce tree, beautiful beaches...all a part of a happy birthday.

z4 z3
It has been an amazing amazing birthday season!
Thank you to all who have read along for it all.
Until next season...I wish you a great and blessed year!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mount Rainier National Park: Day 2

May 30th, 2015
474 Awoke to another beautiful day!  Sunshine and clear blue skies made for a perfect backdrop showcasing Mt. Rainier.
After breakfast, we all went for a walk/hike back up to where the boys and I had gone the night before.

Oh, the beauty of it all...even more magnificent to behold in the morning light.
We spent some time in the visitors' center learning about the Tatoosh Mountain Range. Once I took my eyes off of Rainier it was evident that there were other mountains around and that they were something glorious to behold as well. {smile emoticon}
The boys took some time and completed their Jr. Ranger Badge programs. (Shh! Don't let them know I told you. They thought they were too old, but we convinced them to do it one last time.) The ranger didn't embarrass them too badly either, so we were all thankful for this.
x1 The park itself has so much to do and see within its boundaries. We stopped to walk through the Grove of the Patriarchs. Huge, old trees offering shade and shelter to those needing it among them. The views of the mountains and gorges as we drove out were breathtaking. Such untouched beauty exists so few places nowadays.x Driving out, we drove upon a one truck accident that had just happened seconds before. None of our cell phones had service, though. After we pulled up and got out and saw he was alive and able to talk, a local and friend of the accident victim drove up on us. He rushed off to go to a phone and call for help. The injured man was awake, had a massive goose egg on his head and a laceration on his hand. His seatbeat (and well built truck) saved his life. The damage on the tree he hit was about 15 feet off the ground...he hit the ditch asleep and the truck ramped into the air until that tree stopped him. Out of respect, I took no pictures, but will never forget sitting there with him keeping him talking about his family and what he remembers about the accident while staring up at that mark on the tree.  He was getting more and more drowsy as the minutes passed by. We were able to acquire some ice from another passer-by and I held it on his head as long as he could handle the coldness. When his friend who made the call and another friend made it back, I left the driver's side and let those who knew him take over. Walking back to our SUV, the sirens could be heard and they pulled up as we were pulling away. So thankful he was wearing his would have been so much worse had he not been.
We journeyed on, Pacific Coast bound.  The GPS was set for a landmark where we ran out of road and into the Big Blue Wet Thing (Reference from Muppet Treasure Island, there, in case you were wondering. Hilarious movie; you should see it.)
Dinner when beach bound was at a local, one of a kind burger hut, in the middle of somewhere Washington State.  Norma's.  Best burger I've had outside of Vortex...and it gave Vortex a run for it's money.  I had "The Duke" John Wayne Burger.  Don't remember what all it had on it...and do not recall taking a photo of it (gasp!) you'll just have to take my word that it was huge and yummy!  I remember jalapenos. I just googled it and found their here.  Click on "The Duke" above if you want to see what I splurged on this day.  It was so worth it! I had been watching my food so carefully thus far.  I enjoyed my treat, messy hands and all.

Our stop for the night was at Ocean Crest on the Pacific Ocean with an amazing view from the living room.  It was a nice walk down to the water, so windy and cold once there, but it was a good way to stretch our legs after driving for a few hours.

Mount Rainier National Park

May 29th-30th, 2015
The afternoon sun was still shining bright when we rolled into Mount Ranier National Park Friday afternoon. The best thing about the park is that there is no tv, wifi, or cell phone reception anywhere. Nothing to do but enjoy the outdoors and family time. 
As we drove into the park, on our way to the Lodge, there was this pullover spot to enjoy the view of Rainier.  Those clouds you see above the summit were part of a cluster of clouds that lingered, hiding the summit from view for a long time. We had to leave the first vantage point. Thankfully there was this view available a little further into the park once the clouds lifted.
I am not for sure what it is about Rainier that captivates me so.  It's not like I have never seen a beautiful mountain before...I'm one of the lucky 30% who has seen Denali in all of its glory.  Maybe it is because I have seen and fallen in love with such grandeur that I just could not get enough of this view. There is a peaceful serenity when standing in front of something so much larger than I am.  It puts me in my place.  Reminds me of my Creator and His supreme creativity.  I am made in His image.  Humbling thought. 

Also driving in, we stopped and played in a creek and again to hike a trail beside a waterfall.  It was a beautiful evening.  Once we were checked into our room, Scott took some time to relax with snow capped mountains in his view, his feet up, and an interesting history of the lodge to read. The boys and I took a walk and found some snow.  Not exactly what I dream of on a summer vacation, but it was a beauty to behold as it melted. {smile emoticon} The night was spent exploring, enjoying each other's company, and sleeping.  The boys had sandwiches in the room while Scott and I enjoyed a dinner in the lodge dining room.  Soon after, the boys went to the Lodge to play some Monopoly while Scott and I settled in our room for the night.  Never slept better on the trip.  


Friday, August 7, 2015

Mount St. Helens

Friday, May 29th

It is difficult to put into words how it felt to try to recall what I had heard as an almost 8 year old living in Indiana about the eruption of Mount St. Helens versus seeing photos, reading personal accounts, and laying eyes on the remains of such a grandeur mountain as an almost 43 year old (at the time).  Not only were the events decades apart, they were worlds apart.  How in the world did I miss or forget that the north face of the mountain disappeared? The elevation of the mountain lessened by more than 1300 ft in a matter of minutes as the peak slid down the mountain, becoming an avalanche of rock and ice debris wreaking havoc on anything and everyone in its path, due to an earthquake of a magnitude of 5.1 on the Richter Scale.  Really, how does one forget that lives were lost, homes destroyed (as well as, highways, bridges, and railways), and forests were leveled/scorched in addition to feet upon feet of ash fell.  I remember hearing about the eruption and it being a serious matter, but my 8 year old brain must not have registered the significant details to long term memory.
Maybe this is a good thing.
Still now, just a little over two months since my visit, this is a hard post to compose.  The emotions are still high as I look over my pictures and remember how it felt driving to Mount St. Helens. Stopping at the visitor centers (there are a plenty) brought new insight to this Midwesterner/transplanted Southerner's memories.
Maybe knowing little helped me gain more in the end.
l It was majestic, yet sobering. Life had sprouted again along destruction's pathway, but had been forever changed.
I could not get enough of the beauty of the mountain itself.  There were tears in my eyes when driving closer finally brought the North face into view.  The missing peak replaced by a mile wide crater came into view and I was mesmerized.  Could not take my eyes away from the mountain.  In that moment I wondered how it felt for the locals who had this glorious mountain in their daily view to see it one day and not the next...or whenever the ash cleared enough for them to see it again.
It broke my heart.

Never expected this reaction.
Not at all.
It was a glorious day to see a magnificent mountain, nevertheless.
Beauty is continuing to rise from the ashes.