My Comfort Zone Won’t Stand Still

Where is your comfort zone? Are you always in it? Do you have to be forced out of it by outside sources only to recoil in fear and push against it with all your might? The one thing about being comfortable is…it’s really comfortable. That voice inside us resists moving from that place. The other voice inside us tells us to move.¬†Usually the situation isn’t so glaringly obvious, but as we age, this type of situation can creep up faster and faster. If we wish to create a world that is bigger, to have more abundance, we can do so by pushing back on our comfort zone by leaning into the uncomfortable.

If your comfort zone is the top of the mountain, reach for the sky.

When we are young, we learn by experimenting and doing. A child learns to walk and talk by observing and trying. A teen learns to branch out on their own by trying new things and finding what works and doesn’t. In our 20’s and 30’s we are experiencing new jobs, relationships and sometimes parenthood for the first time. Then we get comfortable, not necessarily in the every day (those who are parents realize they face new things daily), but we often get comfortable in our lifestyle. We have small growth activities through outside sources (interacting with people) and we upgrade at work, learn new technology, read a book, but often don’t do something big that scares us. That something might be small to a twenty year old who is all about adventure but the forty year old self is losing sleep over it. By fifty, the voice of ‘I’m too old for that…’ is resounding more often. Continue that theme into the sixties and by seventy a person can have one foot in the grave even without health problems.

As we age, our world gets smaller. Our memories aren’t as clear, which makes learning a little more difficult which means keeping up with new technology can be overwhelming; there is so much information. Our bodies slow down and it seems things take longer and there are health issues even if we work hard to prevent them.

I have done some things to push my comfort levels to different places. I have learned to snowboard, I have started learning a new language and practicing. I have pushed myself to learn new technology and a new business and another new business and all that is involved with those things. I am getting comfortable and it is time to start doing something new. Tomorrow, I will start a video challenge on my fb page A New Dawn-Feeling Good. I am not sure if I will do it daily all month but have plans to do it daily to begin with at least and have some topics set out. My plan is for a short 2-4 minute video each time. If there is anything you want me to talk about let me know. I will try to fit it in if I know something about it. I am scared, nervous, really uncomfortable with the idea.

As we go through life, our comfort zone moves. We can allow it to push us into an increasingly smaller world, or we can push our comfort zone to the mountain tops or beyond. Where are you taking your comfort zone?

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Somewhere In Colombia

Somewhere in Colombia, someone will buy a pretty pair of boots not knowing that one of those boots made a trip to Canada and back. This is a feel good story about boots. Boots and shoes have natural feel good properties (in my opinion). I mostly focus on sports shoes but have taken to all sorts of pretty shoes and boots over the years. New boots and shoes make me feel good. I think the next time I go to Colombia I will take a suitcase to bring back shoes ūüôā .

For those who are not in the know, one of the places I wanted to visit when in Colombia was the shoe store of my friend Martha’s cousin, who has a shoe making business with a storefront. Five years ago when Martha came back from Colombia with really nice boots it became one of those bucket list things. So, when we were in Colombia that was on our list for must go places. Once there, I was a little overwhelmed; I deliberated for a long time on what to get. Do I get a pair of shoes I will only wear once a month, or every day shoes or boots. I settled on a pair of boots for me and a pair of sandals. We were there for a very long time and I tried on the black ones first but at the last minute decided to get brown ones after realizing the black ones were not too different than some black ones I already own.

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Together again, my Colombian boots that traveled to Canada separately, one boot in front of the other so to speak.

As can happen when 6 Canadians converge on a small store trying on so many shoes and purchasing a whole bunch (I got shoes for my daughters also), there was mass confusion. There were other customers there as well, probably seeing the commotion and being drawn in to the excitement of shoe shopping. In a couple hours we had seven pairs of shoes picked out, some were getting stretched and others were packed and ready to go. Martha and family had a pile of shoes as well. The footwear went to the house and we picked them up the next evening along with the other bag of shoes from the store. We took them back late to our room, where we packed our shoes with our luggage and prepared for our flight early in the morning.

When we arrived home Sunday evening, we unpacked and gifted our daughters with their items. I showed them my pretty boots in the clear plastic bag, continuing to put items away from my suitcase. It was an hour or so later, my daughter was looking more closely at my boots when she noticed one boot was a size 38 and one was a 37 (the right foot boot). My right foot is my larger foot and it did not fit. Not that it would have mattered; it was noticeably a different size. That was kind of the beginning of my “It has been a week” from my last post. I messaged Martha right away since she was still in Colombia although she had flown out of the Medellin where the shoe store is because she could contact her cousin and communicate better in Spanish than me.

Back track an hour or so before the discovery of the shoe situation, we had learned another friend was leaving for Colombia on the following Saturday evening and I had decided to give him the Colombian pesos we had left over (about $5 worth). After messaging Martha about the boot, I messaged him to see if he would be going to Medellin where the shoe store was. He wasn’t,¬†so we still didn’t know how to manage the shoe situation.

Fast forward to Tuesday when I messaged Martha about what to do. She sent a message back and said she had my boot and to send the small one with packaging with our friend to put in the mail anywhere in Colombia.

We picked up Martha and family at the airport late Friday night and she handed me my one boot from her carry on. The next day, I wore my boots and took the small boot in it’s bubble envelop with the Colombian pesos to our friend who took it that night to Colombia.

So somewhere in Colombia, some time in the near future, someone will buy a pair of brown boots, in size 37 that look just like mine and she will wear her boots, not knowing that the right boot on her foot, set foot in Canada in a small home on the tiles you see in the photo. She will never know the travels her boot made, and even though I won’t know her, I will know there is a boot in Colombia that came to visit me for a week.

Further, I know that even though something that seems like a difficult situation to remedy can work out perfectly and like I said in a post a couple weeks ago, money isn’t the only currency we deal in and nothing is better than the help of great friends who are at the right place at exactly the right time.

 

It’s Been a Week

It’s been a week! Depending a person’s tone of voice that little statement can mean a lot of things. For me, it’s been a week since we arrived home from Colombia. It seems so much longer because…well, it’s been a week. The thing with social media and blogging is sometimes a person’s life can come across as being all rainbows and butterflies. In our mind we might know that everyone has their struggles but when we see all the good things, the tendency is to focus on those with no regard to the realities we all face and may not know about.

I definitely try to stay positive. I don’t think being negative, complaining, and whining are very effective in improving my life or that of others. Don’t get me wrong; I am not above being negative, complaining and whining, but I don’t always present that side to everyone. I do want to be real and sometimes that means being less than positive. So, it’s been a week, in this context is said with a bit of a sigh.

Returning from a great trip seems to have an element of post vacation blues. That for me was compounded by the many things that were not done in my absence. Before leaving on a trip there are all those things to do in preparation. Sleep was scarce the week before leaving. On the trip, sleep was irregular and this past week, sleep again seemed to be less than desired. Being tired is not conducive to being positive in the wake of a storm.

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There are some weeks where having a snack hangover and falling asleep seems like the best option to get through the week. 

I could go into details of all that felt wrong about the week, dealing with household management items like laundry, taking care of things that were left while I was gone and moving back into cooking and cleaning up. I could go into detail about how things at our flip house didn’t progress to the point we had hoped, things were done incorrectly and there was another problem that needed to be dealt with along with somehow, we didn’t have enough supplies we thought we had purchased enough of. I could talk about areas where I volunteer and finding that yet again when I returned from my vacation, things were left a mess/undone. I could whine about the small things, the dropping of stuff, the cat puking, the dust and mud tracked in the house, the things that can happen any time but seem so much worse when one is tired and feeling beat down by circumstances. I could be more specific on how my week was less than ideal, but again, we all have bad weeks and I know from a message from a friend that my week deserves a glowing review in comparison to what she is going through. It puts things in perspective; it doesn’t devalue what I felt about my week. I had a less than perfect week but there were good things too.

There were many blessings this week. The countertops were installed in our two kitchens. We got to attend a marriage renewal ceremony. We picked up our partners/traveling partners/friends at the airport. I accomplished a decent amount of things this week. I was able to play wallyball and basketball this week. The weather was nice (definitely nicer than before we left). I survived the week. So, I can also say “It’s been a week” with a little lilt in my voice because I am more in tune with the comforts of home and the blessings I have.

Still, being real, I hope this coming week will be better.

 

Dream Bigger

I woke up in Colombia this morning. It has been 6 days of waking up in another country. Many years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined coming here for a visit. It’s funny how life takes on a life of it’s own and yet, it needs some energy behind it. How often does a person get an idea, a dream in their head and they push it away as a ‘dream’, a ‘whim’ a ‘notion’ that ‘just isn’t possible’? How often are we chided by that little voice in our heads that says ‘it can’t be done”? I have learned to dream big, to dream bigger than that little voice is comfortable with. I have learned that dreaming big and dreaming bigger makes those dreams a reality.

Almost 10 years ago we met a lovely family who started coming to our church. Within a short time we were good friends and had a group of couples that got together. We met more people from our church who were from Colombia and they were quick to tell us we need to be learning Spanish. Over the years we have remained friends with this group of people and those friends ended up in our home school circle as well so we spent much time with similar interests together. Five years ago they went to Colombia. When they returned they told us that when they were here they thought of how they would like to show us places they love.

At that point it was a conversation and fleeting comments followed although they were not part of a dream at that point; but the seed was planted and watered. My husband and I did not travel much while we were raising four kids. I stayed home with them and he worked really hard to make that happen. About 5 years ago, we were gifted (by my family and our kids) with a flight that sent us on our first ‘warm during the winter months’ vacation. We went on a few more because, well, it’s cold in Canada and it’s warm other places. I also decided to learn Spanish (after a trip to Cuba) using the Duolingo App. Of course I had friends who were more than willing to have me practice. I worked on it almost daily for a couple years and then last year didn’t spend time on it because of time spent on other things.

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A view of downtown Bogot√° and beyond from Monserrate.

Then last year happened. I finished my personal trainer certification. I started my Monat business which happened to be with my dear friend. My husband’s job was iffy and we started a house flipping business with these same friends (and a brother). Then said brother became engaged and the wedding was in Colombia and now here we are, attending a Colombian wedding in a couple days, traveling around Colombia with our friends who are ¬†patiently translating for us and helping us at every turn. However, I know enough Spanish to understand some of what is being said, I can speak enough broken Spanish and sign language to get a black, no sugar coffee special made for me at a street kiosk and tell people I have one son and three daughters, their ages and that I have 2 grandchildren and one more in 3 weeks.

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We walked a lot in Bogot√° and when it was raining hard we stopped at a grocery store and learned about the fruits and vegetables here.

I have added a couple photos but this post really isn’t about our trip, it is about dreaming big. It’s interesting how there are little snippets of things that pop up when you are thinking of a post. I have been planning this one for a couple weeks but in preparation for the trip was unable to sit long enough to write it. This morning a friend posted a Facebook post about following your dreams and one of the lines was about waking up in another country. On the way from Bogot√° to Ibague, I was listening to a couple podcasts. To be fair, I listen to inspiring podcasts that talk about dreaming big in business and in life, but the person interviewed was a young lady (26) who travels the world and has amassed riches through business after living a terrible teen life at the hands of others. The thing take home message along with others was, “Money is not the only currency”. When we are serving others, and being genuine in caring and help to others, we can receive the same from others…not always the same others but still receive.

We have been so blessed in all our travels to have the gracious help of others, to have accommodation, to be given food, to have transportation, and tour guides and advice from people. We have experienced the generosity of friends, new friends and strangers. We have been overwhelmed with kindness.

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The time spent with family and friends is the greatest of riches.

The currency of relationships, of connection and goodwill go far beyond what money can buy in enriching an experience. Yes, money is needed too. That is one of the reasons we work. But money isn’t the only currency. Dreaming big isn’t about money either; it is about doing things that you didn’t think you could. It is about, instead of saying “I can’t”, saying “How can I?” It may not be about travel for you, it may be something you want to do in life, go to school, have a bigger house, live somewhere else, have your own business, have more time for family and friends, run a half marathon, or lose weight. Whatever you dream, amp it up–dream a little bigger, then dream a lot bigger. You may wake up in another country one day and it will be good.

 

 

Life Is Too Short To…

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Some of you may be wondering ‘whatever happened to Dawn and that new blog she started?’. ¬†Some of you may be tuning in for the first time. ¬†Feel free to go back and read the previous posts. ¬†I started a little series and intend to continue on with that in due time. ¬†I am starting with a post today that gives you an idea about where I have been the last 7 months…well, really the things that started about a year ago, just to get you updated on where I have been and where I am going. ¬†It’s good for you to know what I am about, to know if you want to hang out here. ¬†And it is good for me to know where I am going because going in circles only works until you are too dizzy to stand. ¬†No guarantees there won’t be some circles, but direction really helps.

A year ago at this time my husband Lawrence and I were in Hawaii, living it up in the sun, sightseeing and hiking some trails. ¬†Living the dream in a tropical local only lasts so long for most of us, but really it would be nice to have a few more chances to live the dream. When we returned, I had my personal training course to complete (which I finished in May) and I was presented with an opportunity to have a business and have some residual income coming in. ¬†Who doesn’t want to be paid while on vacation. ¬†I have been presented with other opportunities but this one fit me because it fell in with my why for pretty much everything I do (more on that later). I started out slowly and have been building consistently, with (mostly) consistent work and consistently doing a little more. ¬†There was a learning curve as I figured out the products and what people are wanting and how I was going to do that. ¬†And I wasn’t sure on why yet (more about that later). I joined with Monat at the end of February.

Fast forward a month or two and Lawrence was forced to take his remaining weeks of vacation and his banked time (from all the overtime he had worked and had to bank in lieu of pay). ¬†It was 7 weeks worth and he got to come with me to bootcamp and kickboxing and cycling during the day and he caught up on some things around the place and got a head start on other things. We really loved the lifestyle, but it didn’t pay well or at least it wouldn’t have if it kept going. ¬†He was fortunate to be given some work when it ran out and kept his job. He earned a week of vacation only to have to again take it off in October. There was always the threat of not having a job after that period of time and each month there was a new ‘end of job’ date (and still is). Back to the spring; when we were enjoying time off, Lawrence mentioned to some friends that he needed to do something different. That’s when opportunity hit the fan again and we were introduced to something they had been working on for a couple years. ¬†We decided life is to short to be unsure about a lifestyle we don’t love, and decided to jump into a lifestyle that, although it has no guarantees, is way more fun and has more potential to give us the lifestyle we desire. He continues to work in his current job as we march forward in this opportunity we are pursuing.

Starting a corporation, learning about real estate investing, flipping houses and all that entails has a huge learning curve and beyond the hands on learning there has been the ‘book’ learning as well. ¬†Fitting it all in has been a juggling act to say the least, with continued feeding and caring for my family and pets and chickens and washing eggs, and laundry and dishes and cleaning the house occasionally. ¬†And I definitely wasn’t going to let go of my sports and activities because that is part of the lifestyle. Anyway, you get the idea.

With all that learning came personal development because…well, because I believe personal development is so important. ¬†I grew up in a family that puts a lot of value in personal growth, living life abundantly, being our best selves to serve others in whatever capacity the individual is called. And through the podcasts, books, you-tube videos and ted talks plus the regular things like meeting and talking with amazing people, hanging out with people, sermons, and personal conversations, I have learned a lot of stuff. ¬†My head has sometimes felt like that cartoon image from Bugs Bunny of being hit with cymbals and continuing to vibrate long after. ¬†And through going through this, I have been able to pinpoint more, why I want to write a blog, and have a fb page and do my businesses and they really all do come together. ¬†Like really what does sports, fitness, feeding chickens and a garden and cycling, and house flipping and getting people anti-aging hair care products and cooking good meals for my family and, and and… all have in common? Probably as much as the million things each person does and yet, I am beginning to see what those things have in common.

I will share some of that on my next post which will be posted on Wednesday…look at me having a deadline and accountability to the three of you reading this today and tomorrow :-).

Feeling Off…And Yet

A month ago I started a blog post. ¬†I have yet to finish it. ¬†It will take a little more work. ¬†I started feeling off shortly after starting the post. ¬†I am not quite sure what happened but my stomach started feeling upset, a bit of nausea, some heartburn and some indigestion. ¬†I felt tired and there was a feeling of sadness that cropped up too. ¬†I didn’t seem to have a¬†fever or even a real feeling of being sick, just off. ¬†I had it for about 5 days (or at least that was when I noticed it being regular) when I met someone at the gym who described the same symptoms and she had had it for 6 days at the time. ¬†Some family members have had the same thing. ¬†Along with the intermittent stomach upset and feelings of not being able to face people, there was some bloating, water retention and weight gain. ¬†It lasted 3 weeks and of course I was beginning to think I should go to the doctor because it is ‘probably something serious’.

I really hate that feeling between sick and not. ¬†Sometimes I think it would be better to be sick for a day or two and be done with it. ¬†At least then I know I am sick and feel like I should (and need) to rest. ¬†When in limbo, I either feel lazy for doing nothing or feel like I need to do something to get out of the slump. ¬†That is what happened this time. ¬†When I was feeling like I had trouble spending time with people, I started looking for solutions. ¬†This fall I was busy with so many things and as those outdoor chores came to an end, I was being less active. ¬†I was still doing my regular activities I had signed¬†up for but there were days in between where I didn’t have activities and I was less active.

So, I signed up for more things. ¬†Yep, because when you are not feeling well, it is the logical thing to do–sign up for more workout classes. ¬†I signed up for kickboxing which I have never done before. ¬†The instructor let me join even though there were only three classes left; and because I could, I signed up for her toning boot camp as well. ¬†For the last 3 weeks I added these two one hour-long classes to my week and it helped me get out first thing in the morning and have more energy when I got back home.

At the same time, our church had a health weekend which I missed because I was really sick that weekend.  There has been an initiative to get more active and compete with steps.  I got a Fitbit Charge HR and have had some fun monitoring my activities and sleep.

Despite all of this, I was a little worried about not feeling well last weekend after my crazy Thursday activities, so last Friday I went for a 3 km run. ¬†The weather was (and has been consistently) beautiful and it was good. ¬†So good, I went for a 5 km run on Saturday and then a 5 km run on Tuesday this week. ¬†Despite my boot camp this morning I wasn’t able to get all my steps in so my husband and I went for an hour-long walk this evening.

The kickboxing and boot camp have ended until January as of today, but I am looking forward to playing racquetball next Monday and snowboarding next week as well.  I am definitely feeling better; last Thursday I was actually looking forward to going to basketball.  I have had more energy during my activities as well.

It has been my experience that when feeling a bit off, exercise can help, if not to make me feel better physically, to make me feel better emotionally. ¬†When I feel better emotionally, I am able to get through that time easier and recover more quickly. ¬†Exercise does boost your immune system when you don’t overdo it, and when you are not suffering too much (high fever, ready to puke, sore muscles). ¬†If you are feeling a bit off, I recommend you try some activity. ¬†Choose something based on your current activity level and how you feel. ¬†If you haven’t been very active, perhaps a short 15 minute walk would be in order. ¬†Increase the time and/or exertion from there if you are normally more active. Make sure you listen to your body, but also be aware you can do more than you “feel” like doing.

Rest is important so make sure you get plenty of rest, nutrients and fluids as well.¬†But don’t be afraid to stay¬†active as well. Remember, this too shall pass. ¬†When it does pass you will be happy you didn’t let things go so far that getting back to moving is difficult. ¬†You’ve got this.

 

I AM An Athlete

Six months ago, a friend suggested I make a fb page so people could follow our journey cycling across Canada (in stages). ¬†I didn’t make one at the time, but posted updates on my personal page so my friends were able to follow our progress. ¬†When I decided to make a fb page in conjunction with starting my schooling to become a personal trainer, I decided to make a blog as well. ¬†I wanted to make sure the names were the same or similar so i started investigating the blog set-up first. ¬†If any of you visited my blog last week you probably saw little to nothing as I slowly navigated my way through set up. ¬†I then had the task of setting up the fb page, which was also new to me and something I kept putting off because I couldn’t find the ‘label’ that fit me. ¬†I decided to go with ‘Athlete’ in the public people area. ¬†Wow, that seemed like such a reach. ¬†Unless a person is actually good at something, are they really called an athlete? ¬†I would venture a guess there are people who are good at something that won’t even call themselves an athlete.

Yet…that’s what I chose and then got a knot in my stomach. ¬†What if someone finds out I am a hack? ¬†Just because some of my friends call me Marathon Barbie, doesn’t make me an athlete. ¬†Who am I trying to kid? I don’t even look like an athlete; I have soft spots and sometimes I don’t even wear the proper clothes. ¬†What if someone sees me eat something they believe is unhealthy? Am I just fooling myself?¬†I didn’t ask all those questions in the time my life was flashing before my eyes when I hit that button, but my stomach reacted to all those doubts over the years that seem to come out the moment you proclaim something. ¬†Fortunately, I had to write that little ‘about’ statement next, so thinking on the fly, I came up with:

There is an athlete in all of us. Sometimes we need someone to lead the way or introduce us to something new. Each day is a new day to get moving.”

That’s what it’s really about. ¬†It is about moving daily. ¬†It is about starting each day as a new day, forgetting what we didn’t do to the best of our ability the day before. ¬†It’s about stretching ourselves in new ways, mentally, physically, emotionally…and just growing because that is where we feel fulfillment and we aren’t getting out of here alive, so why not?

So what defines me as an athlete? ¬†It comes down to what I believe about me. ¬†I play sports, I am active, I have pushed myself beyond what I thought possible. I have exhausted myself physically to that point of hitting the wall and emotional breakdown. I have had victories, and failures; I have succeeded and I have fallen… and I have gotten up and carried on. ¬†I am my biggest competitor (except, occasionally, for that one friend) and my biggest critic. ¬†Calling myself an athlete allows me to be my biggest supporter as well. ¬†When it comes right down to it, each of us needs to be our own biggest supporter to become our best selves. ¬†So go ahead, call yourself an athlete and make it happen.