Tag Archives: purpose

Lessons learned in the classroom

14 Aug

As a group exercise instructor, it is my mission to give each class participant motivation, encouragement, a challenge, and a fun time during class so when he/she walks out of my class, he/she feels better, stronger, more energetic, and glad that he/she made the effort to attend my class.

Last Wednesday morning in Zumba at Northside YMCA, I had a new class participant and she had never tried a Zumba class before.  I made sure to chat with her after class and encourage her to come back.  She proceeded to tell me that it’s the first class she has been back to after losing her mother unexpectedly at the end of June.  I could tell she wanted to talk, so for 20 minutes I listened….shared a little bit of my story of losing my grandmother a few weeks ago…and shared how being physically active can help us through dark, emotional moments. We both shed a few tears and then she gave me a hug and a little kiss on the cheek and thanked me for listening and said she would be back.

In this same class I have a senior lady who attends….I figured she was in her late 60s…she has been attending for a few weeks now…always smiles…has a great time….and makes sure to thank me after class.  I was moved to tears when another participant shared me the story of this lady, Phyllis.  Phyllis is 79 and is the caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer’s.  She hires a sitter once a week so she can attend my class. I was overwhelmed with emotions after hearing the stories of these two ladies.

That is why it is vital for me as an instructor to give 110% in every class…no matter how I feel or no matter the day that I am having.  It is not about me….it is about my class participants.  Health and wellness is more than just physical fitness….it is emotional wellness…..it is mental wellbeing….it is experiencing moments of joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

I want my class participants to leave my class feeling like a better person…a stronger person…a healthier person….and feeling empowered, encouraged, and motivated to face the rest of their day no matter what may come their way.

More lessons I’m learning from the classroom….

Lessons I’ve Learned While Watching The Olympics

5 Aug

I am one of the millions who has been staying up way too late to watch the world’s top athletes compete in the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  As I’ve watched, I have learned some valuable lessons that I hope to apply in my own life.

As I watched 16-year-old Gabby Douglas go through her gymnastics routines, I could not help but be drawn in by her engaging smile and her fun attitude.  She had me smiling as I watched her have fun while performing her floor work.  Yes, she knew she was at the Olympics; and, yes, she knew she was performing for the chance to win a medal.  However, for Gabby, it appears as if it was just another performance doing something she loves and enjoys doing.  Her smile lit up her face the entire time…she was having the time of her life.   I learned from her that if you do what you love and do it with passion while having fun, you will win the gold.

While watching the interview with Carmelita Jeter, it was mind-boggling to hear how people have slammed her, made negative remarks about her, posted things on the internet about her and questioned her authenticity in her performances.  What intrigued me and taught me a valuable lesson was the statement she made towards the end of her interview: You can let what people say consume you or fuel you.  Wow! If it consumes you, it drains you and is negative.  If it consumes you, it energizes you and fuels you to personal best records on the track.

And how can I fail to mention Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee sprinter to compete in the 400 meter run in the Olympics????? Can we say “NO EXCUSES” to go for your dreams??? He has had to fight adversity and naysayers – people who said, “he has an unfair advantage because of his blades….they give him an edge…”  What???? Someone with legs and feet is at a disadvantage over someone who has had both legs amputated below the knees? I’m sure he is another person who doesn’t let what people say consume him.  I’ve learned from him that no matter how difficult it may seem to achieve your dream, you still have to believe in your dream, hope in it, and go for it.

The human body is an amazing design.  We all have an athlete that lives inside us that wants to be challenged.  It’s never too late to go for the gold in our lives….it’s never too late to train to live our dream.  No matter what anyone says…no matter what anyone thinks….. Do what you love and love what you do.  Live every moment with passion and no regrets.  Just do it!

Reflections

22 Jul

ImageMy journey with Grandma has come to an end……On July 12th around 7:30 in the evening, Grandma took her final breath here in this world.  I’m not sad for her…..but I am sad for me.  This last two years my life has revolved around her….visiting her on a daily basis…feeding her lunch or supper (depending on the day)…spending Friday and Saturday evenings with her….going to church with her at the nursing home on Sunday mornings and then feeding her lunch….decorating her room for holidays and new seasons…..taking her to activities…..watching her sleep…..seeing her sparkly blue eyes light up when I would walk into the room…..laughing as Grandma would crack me up with some random remark…..holding her hands….rubbing her feet….putting lotion on her…..giving her manicures…..bringing her treats…….praying with her…..  Sooooooo many memories and I’m grateful for each one.

I’m so glad I made the decision two years ago to move from Michigan to Knoxville, TN.  I was the assistant to our wellness director at the YMCA in Muskegon, Michigan, and was going to be hired as the director in the next few months….I took a leave of absence for one month and while I was checking things out in Knoxville, I interviewed with a Y and was given the chance to teach Zumba once a week.  That was enough to know that I was supposed to move….my career as a director was put on hold and I quit working 40+ hours per week and started over with just one class per week.  Scary?  Yes! But knew that everything would work out and that Grandma was my mission and my purpose in life at the time.

For two precious years I was able to be with her on a daily basis…I find it interesting that she was my caregiver the first two years of my life (my Mom worked full time when I was born so Grandma was my babysitter) and I was her caregiver the last two years of her life.  And, I wasn’t ready for her to leave just yet….thought I had more time….I spent time with her on Wednesday, July 4th and then I left on Thursday for a few days…went to Delaware to celebrate a wedding.  I got back to the nursing home on Tuesday, July 10th and walked in Grandma’s room to see her on oxygen and not looking well.  I just thought her O2 levels were low and the oxygen would make her all better.  I spent time with her and then had classes to teach.  Wednesday morning, the nursing home called to let us know that Grandma was not doing well and probably would not be with us longer than a few days.  I finished teaching my morning classes and hurriedly showered to get there.  I walked in and knew that she would not rally back for us this time….I called my Mom and told her she needed to get on a plane or get in the car and start driving.

Grandma was not left alone until 6 p.m. on Thursday…..people came to hug on her and love on her.  I stayed by her side until 6:00 Thursday morning….had precious alone time with her and sang her favorite songs and then reminded her of all the things we did together – assured her that she was the best grandmother and that she had done a great job.  She would hear my voice and focus in on me for a moment – or if I got up and did something, she would become alert again before fading out.  I gave her many kisses and just loved, loved, loved on her.  My boyfriend, Jeff, arrived around 1 in the morning and stayed with me until my parents arrived at 5 a.m.  Mom stayed with her while we all left to get a little sleep. We all came back and spent most of Thursday with her – I decided to go ahead and teach one class – my parents and uncle went to get a bite to eat….and while we were all gone, Grandma took her final breath.  I really believe she wanted to protect us from seeing her leave us.

Grandma was 85 and would have turned 86 on the 25th of this month.  She lived a full life and made many memories with all of us.  She showered us with love – prayed for us – bragged on us – gave of her time, energy, and money – she never missed a birthday or special occasion – she was a classy lady who dressed like a queen.  She loved  wearing White Diamonds and her clothes still smell like it.  She carried beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs and loved her angel brooches.

Her life was celebrated and remembered by the many people who came to the visitation and funeral.  She was surrounded by pink, her favorite color.  The flowers that arrived were simply breathtaking and would have made her so happy.  One thing she would have been upset with is her thumbnail was snagged and not filed….she would not have liked that!!! 🙂  Her nails were always manicured. I didn’t wear black….i wore ivory and rose because that is what Grandma would have wanted.  And my sister and I sang at her service…something else Grandma would have wanted.

Now we begin the process of continuing life without her being in our daily lives and routines – that is a little unsettling because there will be no more Grandma’s house to go to….and as we all know, there’s no one like Grandma 🙂 My daily routine will seem empty and void for a while….my family has been here so it’s not settled in, yet…and I know I have more tears to cry.  However, the last two years of my life have been filled with so much love and joy and all the moments are priceless.  I’m honored that I was able to have that time with her. Life is short and we never know when we will have to say goodbye to a loved one….that’s why it’s important to focus on what matters and what will last.

Goodbye, my sweet grandmother…..until we meet in Heaven…..

Let’s make a memory….

27 Jun

As I thought about what to put in my intro to my newsletter for the month of July, I decided to google “July Holidays.”  I had NO idea all the things that I need to celebrate in the month of July.  Did you know that July is National Blueberry Month, National Anti-Boredom Month, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, National Hot Dog Month, and National Ice Cream Month???? I had no idea. And, then we get into the days of the month…it appears that the 16th of July is the only date on the calendar that has no celebration. Here in the US, we are all familiar with Independence Day that we celebrate on July 4th – and those of us that have friends in Canada know that July 1st is Canada Day. But, there are sooooo many more celebrations to have!

For example, July 3rd is Compliment Your Mirror Day. July 7th is Chocolate Day and National Strawberry Sundae Day.  On July 10th, it is Teddy Bear Picnic Day. And on the 13th, we are supposed to embrace our geekness!  I will choose NOT to celebrate National Nude Day on the 14th and don’t want to know if you do 😉  Even the Ratcatchers get a Holiday on the 22nd.You can Take Your Pants for a Walk on the 27th and we would be remiss to miss Father-in-law Day on the 30th!!!  These are just a sampling of the Unique and Bizaare Holidays that one can celebrate in the month of July.  (My source was:  http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/july.htm)

Crazy? Fun? Interesting? Sure!!!! That’s what life is about.  Finding the small things and celebrating them.  Taking ordinary moments and turning them into a joyous occasion and a reason to make memories with friends and family members.  It’s not the big vacations that fill our lives with so much joy…..Yes, they are fun to take and we do create many memories while we are on those vacations.  But, we cannot live at Disney World all year long.  We have to learn to savor the unexpected, fun moments that come our way when we are least expecting it…..and to take a crazy Holiday like, Sidewalk Egg Frying Day, and actually celebrate it.

Too many times we wait for the BIG occasions to make memories and enjoy life….life is too short to just wait for once-a-year vacations.  Every day there is something to celebrate…try it….see how creative you can get…..LIVE in the moment and embrace it!

Chapters in life

6 Jun

Last evening, one chapter ended in the life of a very important young lady in my life.  She was part of the class of 2012 and received her diploma for completing high school and will move into the next phase of her life as she enters college in the fall.

Eleighna Chanel is the reason number one that I am an auntie.  She was born on July 12, 1994 and from the moment I saw her being born I was totally in love with this oldest niece of mine.

Because of circumstances, she and her mommy lived with my parents and I; and we were totally taken in with this precious gift sent from Heaven.  Yes, we doted on her and spoiled her and held her all the time and I’m sooooo glad we did because the moments just pass too quickly.

Memory after memory was made with this baby, toddler, little girl, young lady…..

I would wake up in the morning and could look through my door into her room and see her wake up and get a big smile on her face and we would point at each other and she would start giggling.  “I love you more”…. “No, i love YOU more!!!” These statements would be exchanged as she started talking.

Bath time, play time, reading time, trips to the park, trips to great grandma’s house in TN, Disney World, campground, family vacations to Prince Edward Island, etc.

Her first day of Kindergarten, the entire family went with her and escorted her to her room.  Lots of pictures were taken.  It was hard to believe she was already five years old.

During her time in elementary school, I volunteered in her class a few times – went on a field trip or two – was able to take her to school many, many times.  When I would drop her off, I would tell her that she was a princess and that I loved her but Jesus loved her more.  We would say a prayer and prepare her for the day.

She moved to New York for her middle school years; and the day she, her mom & her sister left town, I thought my heart would break it hurt so bad. Lots of trips both ways were made during those few years….

They moved back the summer before Eleighna entered high school…..and as glad I was to have them close again, I was concerned because I knew she would have to adapt to a new school, making new friends, and all the craziness of being a 9th grader.

And….then…..graduation.

I know she will handle the challenges of life just fine because she’s already had to face challenges and difficulties.  Challenges and difficulties I wish I could have sheltered her from.  She faced and dealt with some hurts, sorrows, and disappointments that she should have never had to deal with but because of other people’s choices it left her with consequences.

Not once did she complain or express anger. She would just say, “I’m used to it.”

This oldest niece of mine is kind, compassionate, tender-hearted, strong in her convictions/beliefs, musically talented, loyal, dedicated, sensitive, quiet, introspective, non-demanding, loving and sweet.  I’m so proud of her and being her aunt is a privilege and a blessing.

I hope that the memories she has of the chapters in her life so far will be great ones to reflect on.  I pray that she will remember the good more than the bad.  I hope that the love from her family will be a strong foundation that keeps her grounded the rest of her life….that she will remember the object lesson from her school superintendent at her commencement last night about having a foundation and then adding passion to that foundation and a lifelong love of learning.

It has been my privilege to watch and be part of this chapter in her life.  I’m so grateful for the day she was born into our family….our lives have been much better because of her.  It truly is an honor to be her aunt!

Congratulations, Eleighna, on completing this chapter!  I love you!

Reflections

5 Jun

Today, I get to celebrate another year of life and this year I’m able to be with the people who matter most in my life….my parents, my sister, and my nieces….I couldn’t ask for a better gift.

As I sit with a cup of coffee, listening to classical music, watching 2 five-week old puppies nap after wrestling/playing, I reflect on where I am today and the life lessons I have learned in the past year.

I’ve learned that betrayal hurts just as bad as an adult as it does when one is a child or teenager.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how old you are it still hurts when a “friend” is one of the reasons why a breakup occurs in a dating relationship.

I’ve learned that it still feels horrible to be the one “left out”.

I’ve learned that even as an adult sometimes we feel like we have to be someone we are not in order for some people to like us and accept us.

BUT……I’ve learned some fabulous things as a result.

I’ve learned that the friends who have been in your life the longest are the ones you can still count on and it doesn’t how many miles separate you.  When you need them, they  are only a phone call away.

I’ve learned you still have to keep trusting and that you have to take a chance again…yes, it’s scary and it may not work out but you have to do it.

I’ve learned that a closed door means there is a better door that will open up.

I’ve learned that I get to choose my reaction and that other people’s opinions &  thoughts are not what define me.

I’ve learned like that I really like who I am and I refuse to let someone else’s insecurity/jealousy try to make me someone I’m not.

I’ve learned that there are valuable lessons to be learned from sorrow, hurt and rejection….even when we think we’ve already learned those lessons!!!

I’ve learned to focus on what really matters and to live in the moment.

Yes, these are alllllll lessons I thought I had already learned; I guess I made the discovery that the lessons continues and sometimes the tests get harder 🙂

As I sit and reflect, I love where I am at today and am very excited about this next year of life.  I’m ready to choose health, wellbeing, challenges, discovery, learning, adventure, travel, going outside my comfort zone, blessings, and LIFE!!!!

 

Heroes

28 May

Who is a hero?

What is a hero?

What picture comes to mind when I ask you what a hero looks like?

Do we think of men in capes who fly through the air?

Do we think of men and women in uniforms with lots of medals?

Do we think of ourselves as heroes? (I’d say that most of us do NOT think of ourselves as a hero).

Well, guess what?  Each person is a hero to someone…each of us impact a life – sometimes we have no idea how we impact someone’s day…we may not even know the person…it may be that we took time to chat with someone or that we held the door open for someone or that we smiled at someone.

There are all kinds of ways to be a hero…it doesn’t always involve rescuing someone from a burning fire or pulling a car off of someone (although, those are very heroic deeds).  If we wait around for the BIG heroic deeds where we will be recognized in the news, in the paper, or with a medal, we will miss out on countless opportunities throughout the day to be someone’s hero.

~  Mowing the yard of your next door neighbor who is a single mom or widow

~  Going into a nursing home and spending time with a senior who is lonely and has no visitors

~  Going to the local hospital to sit and hold a newborn who is going through withdrawals because the mom was taking drugs while she was pregnant

~  Giving of your time to a local charity

~  Mentoring a young person

~  Volunteering

There are many, many ways to be someone’s hero….what will you do?  What choices will you make to be a hero?

Let’s Get It Started!

20 May

Mornings…….

Some people have a love/hate relationship with them.

Some people wish mornings didn’t start until noon.

Some people love the pre-dawn hours and get all of their work accomplished by noon.

Some people drag out of bed  – others bounce right out and start at full speed.

No matter which category you fall into….mornings WILL happen 🙂

The choices you make in the morning will affect the rest of your day, so it is very important to choose wisely.

It all starts with a good night’s sleep – it’s important to be rested when you are facing another day.  If you have to be up at 5, you might want to go to bed before midnight.  Study after study is showing that 7-8 hours of sleep is vital for our wellbeing, weight loss, metabolism, etc. It’s been shown that sleep-deprived people eat up to 550 calories more per day and aren’t as likely to burn those calories off. (http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/articles/53-diabetes-news/12409–less-sleep-means-more-eating )

It’s also good to give yourself enough time to get everything done that you need to do before walking out of the house….yes, walking out….not madly, frantically running here and there trying to get everything together and find keys, papers, etc. while making a mad dash out of the door.  If your day starts calm, you feel more like facing any challenge that may arise.  If your day starts frantic and in a frenzy, one stressful moment may push you over the edge!  So, no pushing the snooze button multiple times…..

Drink – start your day with a glass of water.  Your body needs water and your metabolism needs it, as well.  First thing I do after waking up is to go to the kitchen and get a glass of water and drink it all!

Get the body moving – I’m not suggesting that you have to do an intense workout first thing in the morning….especially for those of you who aren’t morning people 🙂  A walk outside in the yard, walking your dog, some stretching, some yoga poses, push ups, Pilates, etc. can help wake you up and energize you.

Eat!!!! – Breakfast is THE most important meal of the day – DON’T skip it!!!!  Food is fuel and your body needs fuel to get through the day.  I’ve had some clients tell me they don’t eat because they don’t like breakfast foods (oatmeal, cereal, etc) – I say, then don’t eat typical breakfast foods…..just make sure you include protein, complex carbs, good fats.  In order to rev up your metabolism, you must eat.

Make time for meditation, prayer, inspirational reading, writing in your journal, words of affirmation, etc.  Don’t forget your spirit – remember that you are here for a reason and that is to make a difference in the world, in someone’s life, in your day.

Each day is a gift….life is precious….each moment counts. The way you start your day determines the way you handle your day and the things that happen during the day.  Your start can set you up for success…..or set you up for failure.  Which will you choose?

The future of girls

31 Mar

As I sit and drink my morning coffee, I’m reflecting on a fitstudio chat on twitter, an article Jillian Michaels tweeted, a news blurb I listened to on NPR, a traumatic day at school for my youngest niece, and my role in all of this.

Yes, this blog will focus on the female gender not because I’m biased but because I am one and I’m a role model for two nieces that are my world.

Empowering Kids with Healthy Choices was the topic of Wednesday’s fitstudio chat on twitter.  As always, it was a great chat with lots of great tips and advice.  Towards the end of the chat, we started discussing role models for girls and how we could be positive role models for the girls in our lives.

One way I do that is to never say, “I hate my_______” or “I don’t like the way my ______ looks”.  I feel that we as women need to embrace our bodies and our unique, incredible bodies that the genetics in our families have helped to create.  I have my paternal grandfather’s nose – he has been gone for quite a few years….but every time I look in the mirror, I’m reminded of him and the role he played in my life.  I have feet like my maternal grandmother…..and just like my Mom and grandmother, if I gain any amount of weight, it will go to my stomach.  All of these unique things make me part of my family.  If I say I don’t like myself or a certain part of my body, how are my nieces going to think positive about themselves?

Jillian Michaels tweeted about an article that had been written by Dara Lynn Weiss about the difficulty of dealing with obesity and her 7-year old daughter.  You cannot find the article online but you can find lots of articles that have been written in response to her article.  I’ve included a few links at the end of this post.

Because of our society’s focus on weight, there’s another BIG issue that comes up.  The NPR news piece that I listened to was discussing the statistics of eating disorders.  Now obesity is an issue that we need to address, BUT I’m very concerned with the unhealthy thinking that can occur in people’s minds and what some are willing to do in order to be “thin”….Notice, I said “thin” and not “healthy”.  Eating disorders cause all kinds of unhealthy emotional and psychological issues and unhealthy relationships with food that people will struggle with the rest of their lives. Many eating disorders happen as a result of a teasing remark or negative role models…..what is disturbing to me is the amount of girls in elementary school that are on diets.  Our little girls should NOT be dieting….the word “DIET” should not even be in their vocabulary.

This hits home for me because over a week ago my youngest niece was in tears after some negative, hateful remarks were said to her on the playground.  She is 11 years old and is not obese or overweight.  No, she is not stick thin…she is just a typical pre-adolescent girl.  She was in tears when she was picked up from school and it affected her for the rest of the evening.  Her mom and dad did their best to un-do the negative, mean remarks but I know that as a child you don’t easily forget those statements made to you by your peers.  Thankfully, my niece is surround by great role models and very positive adults in her life; and, hopefully, we can be a louder voice of influence than the boys on the playground at her elementary school.

I can speak from experience because I was a chubby pre-teen and always struggled with my weight.  I did get some teasing remarks from people but my family never withheld food from me or told me I should diet.  I think a lot of my “problem” was that I was not active…I would rather sit and read a book than go outside and play.  Should my parents have made me?  I don’t think so.  Now we did things as a family – and my Mom always cooked very healthy (we were eating wheat bread before it was popular to eat wheat bread) and always had fruits and vegetables.  As I entered my mid-teens, I took it upon myself to be more aware of what I ate and starting becoming more active.  As a result, I discovered my passion for fitness and nutrition and that is why I’m so passionate about educating and empowering women to be their best.

I think as role models for our girls we need to lead by example…..get outside and be active with the children in our lives.  Teach them that we don’t go on diets but we make lifestyle choices.  Refrain from taking them to fast food restaurants.  Take them to our local farmer’s markets – plant a garden together.  Show them how fun it is to move our bodies….biking, skating, rollerblading, sports, swimming, kayaking, etc. The choices are endless!

Another thing I’m very adamant about is keeping certain magazines out of the hands of our girls….and maybe out of our houses totally.  We need to remember that most pictures are digitally modified and that most females DO NOT look like that naturally.

I want the girls in my life to realize that the world is a big place full of opportunities for them and that food is meant to be used as fuel to help them be their best mentally, physically, and emotionally – that is why we make certain food choices.  I want them to dream big and use their creative, intelligent minds to do amazing things in the world.  I want them to know they were created for a reason and that they are able to make a difference in someone’s life, in the community they live in, and in the world.  I want them to know there is no one else in the world like them….that they are unique and need to embrace that.  I want them to know that their self-worth is NOT based on a the size of any article of clothing that they wear nor is it based on what society says is beautiful.

Two girls that are my world are my nieces – Eleighna is 17 and will be graduating this year.  She is thoughtful, kind, compassionate, talented, beautiful, has a tender heart – she sings like an angel and is learning to play the piano.  She goes with her youth group to a nursing home and sits and plays games with the residents.  She is a faithful, loyal friend. Morgan is 11 and is vivacious, energetic, social butterfly, talented, beautiful, athletic, speaks her mind and has strong emotions and a great sense of humor 🙂  She has fun, beautiful hair that can get crazy wild – and I hope she always appreciates that fun, spunky, crazy hair.  Two amazing girls – two very unique girls – and I want the best for their futures without any of the negative self-image junk that can happen as a result of unhealthy mindsets of food and fitness.

I will always be an advocate for the healthy future of girls.

Here’s a few other women that I feel are vital and important for the future of girls:

www.lisajohnsonfitness.com

www.tobyamidornutrition.com

www.freakingfitness.com

I hope you will check out their websites and follow them on Twitter.  Let’s be healthy role models for the girls in our lives!!!

Two articles that discuss the Dara Lynn Weiss article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hayley-krischer/vogue-mom-writer-child-diet_b_1384845.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/03/28/dara_lynn_weiss_s_obese_child_vogue_essay_can_parents_ever_talk_about_their_kid_s_weight_.html

Daily reminder

28 Feb

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Every day when I leave the nursing home, this is what I see…..the Veteran’s Cemetary. I’m reminded daily that life is fleeting and I need to focus on what really matters & determine what kind of legacy I will leave behind. I would like to think that this visual reminder is making me a better person & helping me to live in every moment with passion, purpose, & focus. I only get one chance at this; and, prayerfully & hopefully, I live it to the fullest!