Spring-ish Cleaning

Do you do spring cleaning? I’ve never been one to do it. Maybe it’s because in Hawai’i, I don’t recognize the newness of spring or any season for that matter. To me, sunshine and mild temperatures almost daily make it hard to differentiate between the seasons. So why is Spring so special and why does a big cleaning have to occur then? Maybe I’ll never understand it.

This week, my husband took a little vacation from work and we decided to do some purging of “stuff” in our house. I don’t consider myself a hoarder, but I do get lazy sometimes and “stuff” piles up. Don’t mistake me…I keep my kids and their clothes clean, take out the trash regularly and keep a pretty clean kitchen. But clean laundry piles up, kids toys get messy and the snail mail can get backed up from time to time. It happens. Sometimes it gets so overwhelming to clean it up, I don’t even know where to start. But this week, we said we were gonna tackle the piles in a big way. So we started with the kids’ room.

Ever since we started having kids, we have been gifted with so many toys, clothing, school supplies, books and everything else kid-related. Some clothes still with tags attached. We have surely been blessed. It takes a lot for me to even start to dig into my kids’ room because so many things have sentimental value to me as a mom. I get upset with my daughters when they leave their things in a mess or I find clean and dirty clothes mixed together on the floor. I feel defeated, like why do I even try. I often ask my self why we have so much “stuff”. I often feel cursed to have acquired so many things that cause me grief on a daily basis.

The black garbage bag is the universal signal in our house that a serious purge is about to happen. So we asked our girls to grab a bunch of black bags and head to their bedroom. We systematically went through bins, baskets, piles, drawers and every other nook and cranny we could get to. We found everything from greeting cards from my first baby showers, old Christmas cards, DVDs(Um, we don’t even watch DVDs anymore), clothes that not even my youngest fits anymore, old art projects, broken hangers. I could go on and on. I felt myself getting frustrated that we had let this go this far. On the first day, we removed 4 black bags of broken or missing part toys, clothes to donate, and trash. Yes it’s embarrassing to admit that we had that much stuff in there. Everytime I walk into my kids’ room, I would feel so overwhelmed. I would try my best to get out of there as quickly as possible, mostly so I don’t trip on something and break my neck. Joking aside, I was avoiding the big purge and cleaning because I was upset with myself. All I felt towards that room was resentment and overwhelm.

Do you know what made the difference for me this time? I acknowledged that we accumulated a ton of stuff and I expressed pure gratitude to all the people who blessed us with the stuff and for the stuff itself. Years ago, I learned about the KonMari method of cleaning and used it on my own belongings but never on my kids’. I can tell you that the act of gratitude for all belongings made it so much easier to let go of them. I know that it will take time to clear the room and get it into a suitable condition again.  As we slowly clear away the clutter, I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hopeful that their room will be somewhere they can relax, recharge, and find peace. I am already feeling better about the process. I’m determined to finish this job that we started. I am also teaching my kids to express gratitude for everything they have.

It also dawned on me that it is June 4th. Is it spring or summer? I guess summer doesn’t officially start for a couple more weeks. So hooray for our spring-ish cleaning adventures!!!!

What I Learned From A Simple Run

Yesterday I shocked myself! I went for a run with my coach and I didn’t stop once. Okay, okay, it was just a 1.5 mile run, but still. Leading up to the run, I was getting nervous and anxious that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. When we were done running, I was absolutely amazed and proud of myself. It’s been more than 20 years since I’ve gone on a conscious run. I was sure that I would poop out after a short while. It helped that we were outdoors checking out the pretty weather and scenery. The thought of running on a treadmill nauseates me, it’s so boring.

I knew that I needed to incorporate some different kinds of exercise to my fitness routine and I’ve avoided running for a long time. Yesterday was the day that I would face that discomfort. After it was done, I did a lot of reflecting on what helped me succeed in this small feat.

I realize that running is a lot like life. Like yesterday, sometimes I get nervous about new challenges or about things I used to be good at but haven’t done in a while. We doubt ourselves and our own abilities. I proved myself wrong. But there were so many factors that contributed to my success. First, accountability and a strong support system. I consciously made time for a run then scheduled it with my coach. We met at the beach and he ran the whole way with me. With each step, encouraged me and not once made me feel like I couldn’t do it. I’m pretty sure he could’ve lapped me a couple times, but he stuck with me. That’s what a great coach does. I also noticed my breath. Such a basic, but necessary part of life. I controlled my every breath and never let myself hyperventilate, even when I was actually out of breath and tired. In life, we need to learn to slow down and take care of our most basic needs. Sometimes, my mind was telling me to quit but I found that my body still had enough stamina to keep going. I kept looking down at my feet to make sure they were still running. Weird. When I reset my mind and focus, I could actually continue. When both body and mind were aligned, it was much easier to accomplish my goal.

Today, I challenged myself to run again. I ran the same path, this time on my own while my family played nearby. Although my coach wasn’t with me, my family was and I made it just as far as I did yesterday. I was so stinkin’ proud of myself again. You know what made it an even sweeter personal victory? My family was at the end of the path cheering me on and waving at me as I came to a stop. Even though it was a relatively short run, they didn’t care. All they saw was that Mommy didn’t give up and they were happy to greet me. Their support meant the world to me. I don’t know if two runs in a row means that I’ve found my long lost frenemy called running, but I do know that I accomplished something that I never thought I could. With this under my belt, I know I can accomplish anything if I put the right focus and determination into it; in life and on the running path.

The Shape(wear) of My Life

Today as I was getting ready to head out, I was casually browsing an online shopping site and came across a lengthy ad for women’s shapewear. The kind that looks super painful to put on, but when you finally get into it, all the bumps, lumps, and cellulite humps are smoothed out and seem to disappear under clothing. I remember buying one of these undergarments years ago when I wanted to fit into a dress that was just a smidge smaller than me. It worked and I fit into the dress, but I distinctly remember noticing a little bulge of skin and fat, just at the edge of the slimming material. You see, in physics, matter never really goes away, it just gets displaced. And as is the case with these shapewear pieces, the same is true. You can neatly bundle up your belly or boobs but inevitably it’s gonna pop out somewhere else.

I’ve used this analogy for a while, to describe my own life. I imagine that my life is a bumpy body that needs containment, and my own self discipline, focus, and intention is that almighty shapewear undergarment. My daily life is nothing unusual. I’m married with 3 daughters who I homeschool, 2 cats, a part time job as a nurse, a side business, laundry, dishes, my fitness regimen and somewhere I try to fit in some alone time. It is hectic. Some days I have it all together. Yes, my life’s “shapewear” is doing it’s job. Life is smooth. But sometimes, I feel like no matter how much self discipline and focus I have, something gets neglected or forgotten; sometimes the laundry goes undone for days, kids’ homeschool is left for another day or I ignore my business altogether. Those days are when I feel overwhelmed and ultimately defeated. That’s when I really notice that bulge.

Going back to the day that I wore the dress with my shapewear. Even though there was a slight bulge and I was not fully contained, I was okay with it. I went about my day and paid no attention to it. I’m sure no one else cared or even noticed it. I was just grateful to have experienced the day and for the chance to wear such a beautiful dress.  Just like life, we can’t be perfect all the time. Sometimes all aspects of my life will be well organized and smooth but when things aren’t perfect, I’m learning to be okay with it. I’m grateful for all the chaos and clarity that comes with this life. Each day is a new day to put on a new shapewear and see how it can work for me. So the next time you see an ad like this, think about your life and what you’re trying to fit in or smooth out. If it fits, great! If not, try again tomorrow.

Patience not Perfection

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It’s so cliche to say “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, but I try not to. I’ve followed this rule for most of my life, almost to a fault. I tend to be very trusting and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Ironically, deep in my gut I’ve always known that my gut never lies. To my detriment, I’ve learned to turn off that inner voice, even though signs are everywhere telling me otherwise. So many times, I find myself saying “Damnit! I should’ve listened to my gut!!!” I get so mad at myself. I get burned, then I feel like such a dummy for getting played.

I know this can lead to becoming closed off and lacking trust and connection with people. I know, because I have experienced it and I now recognize it. In more recent years, I have had limited connection because I have a fear that if I allow myself to become connected, time will reveal that I’ve made a mistake by trusting someone. I want to believe that good is still in the world and the people I associate with. But we’re all human and sometimes people have flaws and make mistakes in life. I mean, I’m not perfect and I’m sure I have disappointed many. I’d be willing to bet that they’re not tossing and turning at night thinking about how La let them down.

What I’m learning is that I need to listen to my gut. When something doesn’t feel right, LISTEN! And if for some reason, my gut leads me astray, it’s okay. Try not to get caught up in the feelings of let down and disappointment. I am so blessed to have my husband and a few friends who can reel me in when they see that I’m falling down the rabbit hole of self-doubt.

Another lesson I am learning is to limit my expectations of others and focus on what I can control; my own journey and actions. I will be alright no matter what happens. I would like to get back to having real connections with people without fear. I’m still learning how…I need to be more patient with myself.

How Do You Fill Your Cup?

These are my daughters. They are my life. My heart. Everything I do, is for them. Everywhere I go, I hear “What about time for yourself?” Yeah, that’s nice and yes, I do get some time for myself but the majority of my time is spent taking care of them or providing for them. Some people think I have no time to fill my own cup. It’s like they almost feel sorry for me. I wish they wouldn’t.

How do you fill your cup? Is it a day at the spa? A night out to dinner or a movie? A quiet night alone in bed with a good book? For me, I recharge best when I can be with my kids and let them be kids. Like the last few days. We grabbed lunch for them and went to the park. We found a shady spot under a tree and enjoyed each other’s company. They ate lunch while we played some new country music on my phone. They enjoyed it. Then we ran around in the sun and chased each other around the large grassy field. No stress of school, work or any time constraints. After that, I was completely happy. The looks on their faces told me that they were too.

Today, we ventured into Waikīkī and explored all kinds of interesting shops and again they had a chance to run around on the grass with each other. They shrieked with laughter and at that moment, I was at complete peace.

My cup is full. My heart is full. I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way. I never thought it would be my kids who would recharge me but they are magical. Their energy is contagious.

I am relentless…again

It had been twenty five days since the last time I worked out at the gym. I’d been nursing a neck injury with an essentially unknown etiology. Probably an accumulation of overuse, poor stretching, inconsistent posture and inattention. After a lot of pain, doctor visits, all kinds of treatments, physical therapy and patience, I got the thumbs up to go back to my workouts. It was a couple weeks earlier than we initially thought. I was both excited and scared.

When my doctor first told me to lay off bootcamp for a while, I was really scared that I would relapse into a severely unhealthy life of borderline obesity, immobility and weakness. So, I told myself that I would stay as active as possible in the absence of my regular workout routine. Well, it didn’t happen quite like that. Even though I had the best intentions, I just didn’t follow through with it. As the days went on, I watched my husband consistently going to Bootcamp. Knowing that I was benched made it hard to find motivation to do anything physical. I tried going for walks a few times but I could never achieve the same intensity or physical resistance that I was used to with my workouts at the gym. I felt like I was going nowhere. I could literally feel my muscles getting weaker by the day. I had worked very hard to build muscle in the past few months. And I was letting it all go to waste. You’d think this would be more of a motivator to keep moving, but for some reason it had the opposite effect. I was depressed. It’s funny how our mindset can really change everything. Unfortunately, I allowed a negative mindset to shift my reality. I was really starting to question whether or not I could or wanted to go back to working out like I used to.

So when I got approved to return to bootcamp workouts, with modifications, I wasn’t too sure how it was gonna go. I was relieved that I would be back in the gym but afraid of re-injury. My coaches and my husband were all very supportive and helpful in my transition back. Thus far, I have successfully completed three workouts with minor modifications. Honestly, I was seriously out of breath during the workouts but I survived. It felt great to be back on the mat and feeling my body move again even though I was hurting. I look at it as my body waking up again. When I was not working out, I felt dead. Now I feel alive again. After many pep talks from my husband and friends, I’m now able to walk my own talk. My intention was to remain positive but alas, I’m not perfect and I let negative thoughts get the best of me. Not anymore. I showed myself that I am worth it.

I still have a ways to go with physical therapy and healing but I’m just happy to be moving again. I’m always aware that the negative, self defeating thoughts lurk just below the surface, but with lots of support and self-discipline, I am determined to overcome them no matter what the situation presents.

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We’re Celebrating Back To School

This was our first week back to school. Homeschool. I loved seeing posts of so many friends and family celebrating their kids’ first days of school this and last week. So many parents are feeling a sense of relief as their kids go back to school. After a long summer, the adults can essentially take a break from the 24/7 calling that is parenting. I get it. Those precious hours that the kids are at school can be an important time to make phone calls, enjoy a meal, take a shower, or even use the restroom. In peace. The house might even have a chance to be clean for more than one minute. I get it.

Most days I don’t get to do much in peace and I’m okay with it. Unless I’m at work or in the unlikely event that my Mom is on an extended staycation at my house where she doubles as a babysitter, my kids are always by my side. Yes, they drive me bonkers sometimes. After all, they are all girls, coming of age and each with their own unique personality. This is a recipe for some interesting situations that sometimes turn into shouting matches. For the most part, my girls are well behaved. The older two are very helpful with the youngest but they all have their “WTF, Why didn’t I send you to school this year?” moments. Like the time when my oldest cut the cat’s fur with the nail clipper. Or the many times when the youngest decided to empty her whole dresser onto the floor looking for clothes then decided on the clothes that I originally picked for her. It is exhausting, just trying to keep my cool on the daily. And honestly, sometimes I lose it. But I’ve learned that my kids can live without me for a few minutes while I gather myself quietly in my locked bathroom. This doesn’t happen often but I warn them that if I have to resort to this, it’s pretty bad. That’s usually enough to get them to chill out.

I was really looking forward to this year because my baby is in Kindergarten and I wanted her to have the best foundation I could give her. So far, she is adjusting to “school” life. Since I’m now teaching three kids, it was a transition for me. I’m learning new time management tricks and tips but so far, we’re enjoying it. We’re loving the flexibility that homeschool gives us. I hope to continue for as long as we want. Our situation can change at any moment so I’d like to keep an open mind. Till then we will enjoy our time together.img_3746-1

This week, I’m celebrating our return to school. I’m celebrating how far we’ve come from our first year, not knowing anything about homeschooling. I’m celebrating the bond I have with my keiki knowing that I’m steering them on a path that will empower them to be strong, smart women. We celebrated by enjoying a great lunch together, taking silly selfies, laughing about nothing and walking hand in hand. I had great fear and anxiety about whether I would be able to provide my kids with a quality education. That fear is nearly gone now. When I see the progress they’ve made, I’m confident that we made the right decision for our family to homeschool.

Just A Bump

I’ve been nursing a nagging neck pain for the past two months, maybe more. I brushed it off as a stiff neck since I’ve had these before. I went to have an awesome massage. Which helped me feel a lot better but the pain never really went away. I tried my chiropractor for adjustment with minimal relief. The pain started interfering with daily activities like lifting my arm and turning my neck. I have been so dedicated to my daily bootcamp workouts and I was unwilling to let those go, so I was pushing through the pain and continuing to work out. After all, I have come so far with my health and fitness goals that I couldn’t imagine stopping or even modifying that regimen.

On Tuesday, I woke up in so much pain that I decided to swallow my pride and head to the doctor. I felt a bit silly going in there with a two month old problem but I am so glad I did, because what I found out was shocking. My pain wasn’t something I was imagining. My spine curvature was grossly abnormal due to a muscle tear and constant spasm. Ironically, I breathed a sigh of relief because I finally had a source for the pain that was becoming such an inconvenience. My doctor gave me a ton of advice on how to remedy my neck pain. Everything from meds to ice to immobilization. And lastly he said, “No Bootcamp for at least two weeks.” My heart sank. All I could think of was how all my fitness progress would be undone if I’m unable to exercise at the gym. I already felt defeated. I felt sorry for myself.

As hard as it would be to be away from Bootcamp for two weeks, I had to recenter and realize that this was the best thing for me. I let go of the negative feelings I had towards my injury. Instead of asking “Why did this happen to me?”, I’m asking “What can I do to make the best of this situation?”. Of course, before I had my big A-HA moment, I did indulge in some junk food. Why the hell does that happen? Oh, because I’m human and I have lapses in my good judgement from time to time. I know that good, clean eating will be more important than ever while I’m on hiatus from the gym. I also accept that my weight is just a number and if I fluctuate in weight, it’s quite alright.  I intend to keep my lower body as active as possible so that I can make a smoother transition back to the gym when I’m ready.

This is all just a bump in my road to fitness journey and a reminder that no matter what kind of obstacles are placed in front of you, there’s always a way to pass through. I’ll see you on the other side!!!!

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Happy 9 Years

My second daughter Mia is about to turn 9 and each year that passes is like a badge of honor for me. At the time she was born, I had a 2 year old and my husband and I worked opposite schedules. We had no time for each other and our relationship was suffering. Mia was born into a rocky relationship. My marriage was in limbo, I was searching for something and I didn’t even know what it was. I was lost. Nevertheless, we were bringing this beautiful baby into the world. When she was born, she was such a good baby but I was truly unsure of our future. There was so much turbulence around and there were days where I contemplated leaving. Yes, this is terrible and it breaks my heart every time I think about it. But as painful as this time was, it was also a turning point in my marriage. We worked really hard on our differences. We made a lot of sacrifices and made the decision to love harder than ever before to make sure our kids could grow up surrounded by love and genuinely loving parents. It was not an easy feat because I was selfish, resentful and distracted. But we made it through. Since 2009, we’ve had some rough patches but all in all, it’s been a wonderful and interesting journey.

Every time I look at my beautiful Mia and every year on her birthday, I remember the hard times that we went through and I feel so thankful that we decided to make a go of it. She might never really know what our relationship went through before her but I will always do my best to give her the loving home and family that every child deserves. She is such a sweet and loving child, as are my two other daughters but she holds a special place in my heart because if not for her, our life would be so different. I could have lost my marriage but having her helped us realize that life is a gift and our relationships are to be treasured.

So Happy Birthday baby girl!!! We love you and appreciate you! Thank you for showing Daddy and I what it means to love unconditionally and for showing us that family is worth fighting for.

Breathe Then Scream…It Works

Yesterday was a busy day. Busier than usual. I was prepared for it. Until a wrench got thrown in. Our car battery decided to die in the morning. That added an additional stress to my already hectic day ahead. But I had to get everything done. We had a doctors appointment, kids cooking class and my mom had surgery, all back to back. In the back of my head was the looming fact that I had one dead car and one car that we’re gonna give away in a days time. OMG

I’m not a professional at juggling a ton of tasks but I get by on a daily basis. I am good at focusing on what needs to be done and getting it done. But for some reason I had a really tough time yesterday. I was overwhelmed with worry and frustration. I felt alone. My husband was at work till afternoon. By the time he was done, I was ready to explode. I had accomplished most of the tasks for the day but I just needed some help with getting the car situation taken care of. I felt trapped, overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. I needed a quick release. A big cry. A big scream. A big punch. Or something else BIG. After some running around town with my husband, we finally were done.

We still had time to get to the gym. I debated on going because I was totally spent. But for that reason, I realized that I needed to go. So we went. When we got there, my husband got out of the car to feed the meter. I stayed in the car and let out a huge scream. I thought he wouldn’t hear me because we were parked on a busy street at rush hour and our car is well insulated. Haha! He heard me, and he looked at me as if he just heard someone get murdered. It felt great! And we looked at each other through the window and could not stop laughing. I was feeling better by the second.

We saw our friends and as I talked with them I felt better and better. Our workout was brutal and awesome at the same time. We worked hard! I kicked harder than ever. It felt great to unleash. My partners kept me going and we encouraged each other. At the end of class, I felt overwhelmed again but this time I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love.

I was grateful that I made it through the day. No one died. I made it to class. My car was fixed. My husband and I were on good, laughing terms. I had a chance to workout with my dear friends and let out my frustration in a completely safe and healthy environment. I took the opportunity to regroup, refocus and get ready for the next day ahead.

I learned that even though we have an insanely busy and frustrating day, there is always something to be grateful for and when we can find those things, the crap will all fall away.