August – Like the wind

I don’t know what happened to August. It was here and then it was gone: like the wind, a flash of lightening, or a sock that always gets lost in the dryer. The point is…it went so fast I did not have time to discover a challenge that peaked my interest enough to write about.

It probably has more to do with my motivation and lack of preparation than anything. August seemed to be a tough month. It was really low for me most days. I have much difficulty sleeping so when it’s time to get up for work I just cover my head and lay there another hour. Ultimately this makes me late for work which means I have to work later to make up the time and then I am getting home later. It just turns into a downward spiral that last for weeks. August was that month for me. Somewhere along the way, I think I lost my way; my purpose; my reason for living. I fell into a mundane schedule that seemed to never end. Events that I normally have fun with no longer seemed interesting. Hanging out with friends became a chore. I did not want to socialize with anyone; not even my husband and children. Honestly, I just wanted to be left alone. Most times, I try to deal with these feelings in silence and go along with events planned. I didn’t even want to find comfort in my dogs and chickens. Which means it was really bad because I love my dogs and my chickens! I often deal with anxiety and depression. It creeps up on me with no warning and no reason. These are the times I try to separate myself from the world, so they don’t have to deal with all the negative feelings that just want to explode out of me.

Because August was a wash for a challenge, I thought I would catch up so some of my past post. In March, I wrote a post “March Madness – Raising Baby Chicks”. This was when I first got them. It was such an amazing and exciting time. I remember they did not much care for being held. But I would pick them up and pet them and give them kisses. Now, we are enjoying Raising Chickens and Having Fresh Eggs (#40). We get three a day because we only have three chickens. I think in my city we are only allowed to have four at one time. I really got concerned at one point because one of the ladies had been limping on her leg for a couple days. Probably because I accidentally stepped on her. Yes, I felt really guilty about that. She seems to be fine, but I really felt bad for her. They love to follow me around the yard, especially if they believe it is feeding time. They have their own special character. Now, when I walk out to the deck they come running up. As I walk down the steps to the yard, they squat down and wait for me to pick them up. I think that is why I am so fascinated with them. I think the dogs have taken to them too. They like to play with them. Neptune likes to catch them and lick them. He’s a strange dog for sure.

So last week, I was at work and as I was leaving the building right in the entry way was a snake. It freaked me out so bad I thought I was going to have a panic attack. My fear of snakes is so real! Now every time I go to work, I am looking around all the doors and inside the corridor before I ever step inside. Then, that same week, Karen posted there was a snake in her chicken coop. That is just what I needed to see. Now, when I go to care for my chickens and retrieve the eggs, I am walking ever so cautiously, slowing opening the doors to peek inside before I reach in to retrieve the eggs. How am I ever going to complete the challenge to Wear a Snake Around My Neck? (#67) How? I am doomed to have a heart attack if I try to attempt this.

Snake in Karen’s Chicken Coop

Thumbing through my book, I realized I did complete one challenge; Take an Online Course to Better Myself (#272). I took this course through World Instructor Training School; the same organization that I received my personal training certification. The course was “Finding Your Customers: Listen, Define, and Think to Increase Your Social Media Presence“. I must say I was not really impressed with this course. It seemed incomplete. Upon starting the course, I could only see Modules 1 and 3. I had to contact the company to find out if this was in fact an error or if something was left out. They fixed the course and I was on my way to completing it. It was not a challenging course by any means. I felt the information in the book was useful, but the course ended before the book did. I felt as if the course was developed just to sale the book for the author. The course should have taken us more through the steps of setting up a social existence and maybe even had that part of the course work to be completed. Unfortunately, I had to return the book to the library before I could finish reading it. I will definitely check it out again. I just have to pay my late fees first. I am looking for another course that will challenge me to actually learn something; where I have to research and use my brain to think about how the body is supposed to function in certain situations, how to truly start a business on line, how to obtain customers, and study the nutritional aspect of daily dietary intake and chemistry compounds of food. My goal is to become a dietitian but all the colleges in my area dropped the program from their curriculum; at least that’s been the outcome of my research so far. I haven’t given up on it.

Do you have any suggestions on where I find some continuing education opportunities to help me in my fitness industry?

The Wave Crashers Return

Emily and I had our second surfing lesson with VA Surf Sessions. Wes couldn’t join us on this adventure so my friend, Christine, joined us as a new “Wave Crasher”.

Last Sunday, I did not apply any sunscreen to protect against the rays. The backs of my legs were really burnt by the end of the day. To avoid a repeat of that day, I had Christine spray the backs of my legs with 50 spf sunscreen. We were provided a rash guard shirt for the lesson. After filling out the required paperwork, we chose our boards and sat in the sand to listen to the brief.

This weeks lesson consisted of seven participants. I was a little concerned that there were so many people as I was under the impression that there were four surfers to a lesson. Our instructor for this lesson is Charles. He has 13 years surfing experience. He took us through this rather entertaining introduction and repeats surfing terminology similar to last weeks lesson. He was a rather funny guy and very entertaining. He had an assistant, Josh. Josh is 18 years old and only has one year experience. I explained to Charles that my niece was very nervous about surfing. Therefore, I was a little apprehensive when he sent her off with Josh for a little one-on-one experience.

Unlike last weeks lesson, we all sat on the beach while one group went out to surf. We rotated throughout the two-hour lesson. I felt this method did not provide adequate time for getting comfortable with the water or to help Emily get over her fears.

On our second ride out, I passed Emily to Charles so that she could use his expertise to get comfortable and hopefully have an enjoyable ride. As they make their way out, Christine is already on her way with Josh. I, on the other hand, struggled to get past the break. I kept crashing into the shore line. The waves on this particular day was tumultuous or so it seemed. It must have been a comedic sight because the dads along the beach were laughing at my every attempt to get past the break. Finally, I am past the break! That took forever. I decide that this is going to be the wave. Okay, maybe not this one! Well, not that one either. But the next one. Yep, that was it! I finally rode my first wave! It was awesome! Exhilarating! Exciting!

There were two young boys that were part of our group. Tyler, from St. Louis, Missouri and Maxwell from Norfolk, Virginia. The boys were amazing. They took to the waves like experts. I talked extensive with Tyler and he began to tell me all about his four year old niece that surfs really good. Four years Old! I can’t even stand up on the surfboard. I can only imagine that she was his inspiration for learning how to surf. Unfortunately, he tells me there are no waves to surf where he is from. I hope he continues this adventure. It would be an awesome experience to be able to share this sport with his niece as they grow through the years. I wish I would have had a video or more pictures of the two young boys to share with you. It was great to see them try surfing for their first time.

Also apart of our group was Kim and Leslie. One of them came all the way from California to visit the other. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one. I really enjoyed talking with the two of them. Like myself, they seemed to struggle with the waves. It was obvious they were having fun with their experience. I even surprised them by take a few videos for them to share their experience.

Before I knew it the session was over. I was feeling a little disappointed because I did not get the experience or time on the surf that I was really hoping for. On the other hand, Charles provided some insight that helped me to ride my first wave. It was a nice experience but I really wanted more time.

The next day, I woke up with this horrible rash on the back of my legs. I could only guess it was from the sunscreen. After a few days, I decided to go to medical to have it evaluated. The doctor was stumped and had no clue to what it could be. She prescribed some steroids with hopes it would take care of the issue. Luckily, it did and I did not have to see a dermatologist but it is odd that it was caused by a sunscreen that is suppose to protect you from the elements. I am so thankful to be past that misery!

I feel so fortunate to be able to share this experience with my husband and friends. I feel especial important that my niece wants to join me on this journey. I am so grateful for the time we spend together. After all, she is a teenage and most want to spend their time with friends and doing things that friends want to do. God has truly blessed me!

“There are so many different elements to surfing. Small waves, big waves, long boards, short boards. This makes it a sport you can share with people. It’s not just a solitary thing – it’s become a family thing, too. It’s about exercising and passing something on from father to son, and from mother to daughter.”
~Kelly Slater

June – Mandatory Family Fun Day

The day started with a deep conversation with a dear friend. Her struggles really hit my heart.  I wish there was something I could do to help her through this season of trials in her life. She is by far my greatest friend. She was there for me when I had absolutely no one else. She nurtured me through my own family struggles as a teenager. I watched her and her family. The bond they had made me envious. I wanted the same bond with a family that I knew I would never have. Her family showed me that it was possible to have a close family relationship. Her example is what helped me develop the bond with my own sons. I love her with all my heart and will be forever grateful of the example of a friend that she has been to me. Still, I am lost…I don’t know how I can help her. She now struggles with family relationships, heart disease, and issues I am unfamiliar with. How can I help her?!

After our talk this morning, my own family hit the road to Richmond, Virginia where we spent the day whitewater rafting with Karen and her family. Is it strange that I feel guilty for this trip after my previous conversation? I had to make a mandatory fun day because if I did not, I would not have been able to spend time with my sons. Their plan was to sit around the house and play video games all weekend.

The traffic was horrendous on the way there. Stop and go…for absolutely no reason. It seemed as if we were never going to make it there. There is nothing worse than sitting in a car with Wes driving and his frustration is at its peak. I knew I should have drove. At least then I could pull over and empty my bladder without listening to complaints and comments. Instead, I just sat quite, waiting until I couldn’t hold it any longer. Fortunately, he had to go before I ever said anything.

We arrive to the site a little early so we meet Karen and her crew at McDonald’s because it was literally right across the street from Riverside Outfitters. Not having much to eat before we got on the road, I wasn’t going to complain. It is not my choice of a good lunch but beggars can’t be choosy.

We finally reached the time to check-in and get our briefing. I am so excited by this point. I just knew it was going to be a great day on the water. I was looking forward to having something exciting and different to do. The day proved to be just that!

It was an awesome ride. We rode the Level I and II rapids because we had a very small 11 year old with us. We had a quick dip in the river and threw water balls at each other. Our tour guide was awesome! I am sure he thought we were a crazy bunch. I had Karen pick up a disposal waterproof camera for me and all the guys laughed at my archaic device. They acted like it came from another dimension. I actually thought it was pretty cool to have a tool blast back from the past. Kids today just don’t know what they are missing out on!

The trip was over and we headed to a restaurant called “Galley“. Unique for anyone that served on a ship of any kind. The food was good. The restrooms had piping for the toilet paper and paper towels. It also helped brace up the stalls. I definitely recommend stopping in there and checking it out.

Luckily, the trip home was pretty uneventful. We took a different route and seemed to be home in no time. I really enjoyed my day on the water and spending time with family and friends! There is nothing more I would rather be doing!

Stay tuned for my next post about Riverside Outfitters. They have a ton. more opportunities for me explore nature and peak my adventure side…whitewater rafting level 5 rapids, mountain climbing, kayaking level 5 rapids….the list goes on!

The Not-So-Scary Ferris Wheel

May’s Challenge…Ride a Ferris Wheel (#301). My husband and I were about to drive through the Downtown tunnel in Norfolk, Virginia when he noticed this huge Ferris Wheel across the way. You know it must be huge for him to see it as he is literally blind in one eye and limited vision in the other.

I looked up the information for the Ferris Wheel. It is operated by SkyStar. It is a nearly 15 stories high; equaling almost 137 feet high. This would peak my fear meter for sure because I can’t even climb onto the roof of my house to remove the growing pine trees from the gutters. I also found out that it is not called a “ferris wheel” rather an “observation wheel”. What is the difference between the two? You tell me. For the sake of my blog, it will be called a Ferris Wheel because that is what I envisioned I would be riding!

I thought this would be the perfect May Challenge. I have never ridden in a Ferris Wheel. All day, I envisioned us on this Ferris Wheel. I was going to ride this huge Ferris Wheel and it was going to be extremely scary.  It was going to go around fast and there was wind and people were screaming.

Okay, so maybe that only happens in the movies! What actually happened?! It was enclosed! What Ferris Wheel is enclosed? How can you get the feel of the wind? Where is the romantic vibe you get when you are with the one you love (or for some, the one you dream of being with)? Maybe that is why it is called an “Observation” Wheel!

There was no wind to provide the fear factor and it was slow…almost to a crawl. Even in the movies there was a little wind. There was cotton candy. There was hand holding and kissing! There was none of that! Well, maybe there would have been some kissing had my 20 year old son not been in the cart with us. I’m sure it would not have been pleasant for him to watch his parents make out.

I think I was most afraid when we were buying the tickets. I did not get that frightening feeling I thought I would have. Although, the price of those tickets was pretty frightening. It was not romantic by any means. It was rather disappointing.

I critiqued my ride to my husband whom laughed at me with a chuckle. I am sure he was thinking that I watch way too many movies. It was evident that he had been on a few Ferris Wheels because he told me they are not designed to go fast and there usually is no wind.

This definitely taught me that not all challenges have to be scary. It opened up a whole other aspect to my Life List Challenge. Now instead of fearing that all my challenges will be frightening…I am open to the prospect that they will be more fun and relaxing without all the fear!

May – A Month of Celebrations

I know I am behind on posting for May. I have come here several times to generate the perfect post. Yet here I am…still lost for words, trying to figure out how to convey my thoughts and experience in just the right tone. Do you ever get writers block? If this is what it feels like, I don’t like it!

There was only one fear challenge accomplished on my Life List this month but that is not what this post is about. I know! I know! That is what this blog is all about right?! Well, we will get back to that but I wanted to touch on something a little more personal and little more important. Family and the ability to share and celebrate their milestones.

First, we had the Tidewater Comicon, which coincidently, coincided with my birthday again this year. It has become tradition now with four years running. Actually, I guess you could say that I started a tradition (#7). That would account for a “Bucket List” item. There were several items I should have completed but didn’t. I could have dressed up in a disguise for the day (#72). I let this one slip off my radar again. Time was not on my side. My fault, indeed, I did not properly plan. I knew it was coming up. I just could not figure out the best costume to wear. If I am being honest, it probably has more to do with me having this aversion to dressing in a costume. I don’t know why but I find it kind of weird and I am really self-conscience and judgmental of myself. I’m not totally against it. I’m just not creative enough to figure out a disguise that would work for me. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear your favorites. Then I can start planning for the next Comicon or maybe even Halloween!

Back to the celebration piece, my husband and three of his friends have a podcast, ManPoints!. The ManPoints! team was accepted by Tidewater Comicon for conducting a live show at their event. This was a huge ordeal as they thought they were banned from the Comicon. Last year, they were almost ejected because other Comicon merchandizers found them to be offensive and did not want to be located next to them. If you want to check your Sally meter you can check them out on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Speaking of birthdays, I was suppose to throw myself a birthday party. Since Tidewater Comicon was on the same day and given that it was Mother’s Day, that would not have worked. But stay tuned…Karen and I are planning to throw ourselves a birthday party. Karen? You remember Karen, right? She is my friend that is supposed to be writing this blog with me. Yeah, she is still caught up with life and its happenings. We won’t hold that against her. She is too good a friend to do that. I love her to death! Anyways, we are choosing a date that meets in the middle of my birthday and her birthday! I found out that she has NEVER had a birthday party. Hers is December 12. I have only had ONE birthday party in my lifetime. My then ex-boyfriend, now husband, threw me a party. Yes, it was one week after I broke up with him. That is tale to be told…to be told at another time. Ok, you pressured me into it! Here’s the tale.

You see, I’d never had a boyfriend. Never really hung out with boys. I didn’t know much about life in general. I was literally raised in a closet. There was an unknown world out there that I was dying to discover. That world accepted me with open arms! I was scared and really didn’t know what it meant to be a girlfriend or how you were suppose to act around boys. I decided to break up with him…because I was scared! He had planned this surprise birthday party in advance and decided to have it anyways. I knew I made a mistake the moment I broke up with him. It didn’t take me long to realize I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I just had to make things right with him! So I asked…in a bathroom while playing a Meatloaf song! How crazy is that?! See, I told you I didn’t know much. Surprisingly, he said yes. I later found out I was the ONLY girl that had broken up with him that he took back. I am one lucky girl! This is a story that has been told several times over the last 25 years and I know it will go down in our history book to be passed on to grandchildren.

Once we got through Tidewater Comicon, my birthday, and Mother’s Day; we moved on to more important celebrations. GRADUATIONS! We traveled to Mississippi for Allyssa’s, my niece, high school graduation. She is an amazing young woman. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to watch her grow these last 18 years. We have taken her to several comicons with us. She is a blast to hang out with. The weekend was over and we had to travel back home to get in a weeks worth of work. Then we traveled to Texas to Megan’s, my niece, high school graduation. I am so excited to see her graduate. She is such a smart young woman. She was accepted into Baylor University this fall. I know that she will achieve greatness in anything she does. I enjoy spending time with her as well. I just wish she didn’t live so far away.

Allyssa – Graduation
Megan – Graduation

When you marry, you marry into a whole family. I have heard horror stories from others about their experiences with their in-laws. I just cannot relate to those stories. I married into the greatest family. My father-in-law, Mike, treats me as his own daughter. If I need anything, he is only a phone call away. I cannot say enough about my brother-in-law. He has shown me what it is to have a real brother. A brother that you can rely on. One that has his sister’s back; no matter what the issue. He will drop everything to attend to the needs of his family. My sister-in-law, Theresa. Wow! She is amazing! We have the greatest time together. I just wish we lived closer. I love hanging out with her. She just makes me feel so at ease. I can laugh around her and feel no judgement. She is always there to listen to my craziness and is not afraid to put me in my place. She lets me know how it should be. Then there is Rumiko! She is my sister-in-law. She always laughs at my quirkiness. She is so much fun to be around. She teaches my sons a few Japanese words but I could never catch on to what they were. It’s probably a good thing. There is no telling what “bad” words my sons may be asking her about. I’d love to learn Japanese but I can barely speak English. It would not be right, if I did not include my mother-in-law in this post. Debbie, has taught me so much. Every time we get together, she teaches me something new. She taught me how to sew curtains for my kitchen windows. This past visit, she taught me how to make a really quick and simple soup and potato salad. There has been countless things that I have learned from her. She is like an encyclopedia full of knowledge waiting for someone to open the cover! Lastly, there is Wes’ mother. She passed away many years ago. She showed me that it was possible to love unconditionally. Her interactions with her family told so many tales. She once asked me how my visit was going. I told her that I had learned a lot. She asked me what things. I told her that she showed me “what love really is.” I guess you could say, there really is no “in-law” at the end of our names. We are just one big family, with everyday peoples dilemmas, standing ready to help where needed.

You could say that May was not a total wash on my Life List because spending time with family will always be number one. I didn’t have much family around when I was growing up, therefore, I never take those opportunities for granted. Family is my everything!

“Family is just accident…. They don’t mean to get on your nerves. They don’t even mean to be your family, they just are.”

Marsha Norman

Failed attempts but still trying

April was a hard month to endure! After the passing of Mr. Bascums, it seemed so hard to get back on track and in the swing of things. I had several failed attempts at achieving goals on my Life List. The first. Triathlon. Amidst all the chaos, I missed a swim lesson and then my instructor was out for a week due to a school field trip. Once she returned, she discovered the pool was closed for a few weeks for maintenance. This put a huge damper on my Triathlon training. I was already feeling that I had put too much stress on myself to try and compete in this after only seven weeks of training. After all, I was starting from scratch as an athlete swimmer. I have no idea what I was thinking. I decided in the end to defer the triathlon until I was more comfortable in the water.

“You can only control what you can control. I had to remember that, and once I got back in the race, I was able to regain focus and finish strong.”~Gwen Jorgensen

You know, I almost drowned as a child. It was a gorgeous day out. My parents decided to take us to a nearby lake. I always enjoyed going there. There were few times we actually did things as a family. This was one of them. We had a picnic lunch and mom let us go back into the water. She was standing on the edge of the water. I was watching her the whole time. My dad was high up in a tree, drinking a beer, as he prepares to swing down into the lake. I slightly stepped off the ledge. I bobbing up and down. Each time trying to gain my footing. I couldn’t find the edge of shore. Each time I come up, I see my mom watching me. I don’t think she realized what was going on. I think she thought I was playing. Before I knew it, as I bob up one last time, I see my dad dive down into the water. I go under and feel him swoop me up out of the water. He was so mad that he had to toss that beer into the water but grateful that I was okay. You would have thought that day would have prompted them to teach me to swim…I am still learning!

The second failed attempt was my Tour de Cure 100 mile ride. I just wasn’t feeling myself. You see…I suffer from Anxiety Disease. Yes, it is actually a disease. One that has taken me many years to accept and come to terms with. I tried to tell myself that it was all in my head. There was nothing wrong with me. I had to suck it up and keep on moving. I read a book, Anxiety Disease, by David Sheehan to fully understand that I am not alone. There are many people out there that suffer from the same symptoms as I. I did not want to believe it. I thought it was all in my head. I thought I was making these symptoms, these feelings up. I even called myself a drama queen. What I really wanted was the constant feeling of suffocation to go away. To be relieved of the constant, irrating yawning to disappear. The unbearable lump in my throat to dissipate. I wanted to be able to sleep at night and feel rested when I woke in the morning. I wanted energy; to feel invincible as I did a few years ago. This book helped me, not only to see that there are others out there that suffers as I do, but showed me how the disease could progress into something much worse if I did not take care of the problem. It illustrated a lady that would sit in the hospital for hours at a time just in case her symptoms occurred, one could not leave the chair placed in her room, another would have panic attacks every time she went out to dinner with her boyfriend and his friends. I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted to live. Reluctantly, but now accepting my fate, I called my doctor for an anxiety prescription.

The Anxiety Disease by David V. Sheehan, M.D.

On the day of the ride, I decided I would drop down to the 65 mile ride instead of a the 100. As I am riding, my breathing becomes labored, my chest begins to hurt. I’m starting to have a panic attack; with each pedal stroke leading closer and closer to an onset. I mentally talk myself through the episode. I really just wanted to be alone, to ride my ride in peace. As a Team Portsmouth Team rider, we leave no one behind. Therefore, the ride lead stayed back and talked me through to the first rest area at mile 15. I must mention that I was riding on a flat tire those 15 miles, even after completing the ride checklist the night before. By the time we reached the rest area, I was exhausted. I decided at that point, I would drop to the 35 mile ride. I thought the ride was never going to end. I beat myself up for dropping down two race levels but I knew it was for the best. I think it would have been more embarrassing to have someone have to escort me off the course.

I look at this as a great learning experience; an opportunity for growth. I must admit it was very hard to tell my husband and children that I did not complete the ride as planned. We are a “never quit” family but there are times when we need to consider our health more than I our dedication and promise to others.

I am so thankful to all that donated to this cause. I did not reach my minimal donation goal. In total, it was $315 of the $2500 goal. I believe in part was not having sponsorship connections or proper promotion techniques. There were many lessons learned from this event that can only set me up for success for next years event!

Team Portsmouth Tour de Cure 2018
Dee Butler (L) and Jackie Elliot (R) preparing for the Tour de Cure 2018 65 mile ride.

April – Developing Entrepreneurship

I have always wanted to own a business. I wanted to be successful at something and have something to call my own. I have jumped into many opportunities; some without thinking of the long term effect. My first entrepreneurial opportunity was with Beach Body. Then there was Mary Kay. Then Melaluaka. Then Beach Body again. I even tried to sell things on apps like LetGo and Offer Up. I tried eBay. None of those organizations seemed to work for me.

For the most part, I am not a skilled seller. I do not like to haggle for a good deal and certainly do not like to be cheated by people that want good quality products for nothing. Beach Body and Mary Kay required the ability and fortitude to randomly call people to ask if they would be interested in a product. This in no way suits my personality.  I must disclose that I am still currently a Beach Body coach. I like the products they offer. I am just not good at promoting it. I keep my circle small, so to be successful at it, I would have to widen it significantly.

If you don’t build your dream, someone  will hire you to help build theirs.  ~ Tony Gaskin

Apps and websites like LetGo, Offer Up, and eBay require the time to snap pictures, upload to a website, and add descriptions with the hopes that it will entice someone to want to buy them. In the end, you may get $1 for the item you might have asked $15 for. The time spent does not equate to a profit; especially if you are willing to deliver or ship an item.

Maybe, just maybe, I failed at those endeavors because I wasn’t passionate enough about them. I did not promote them. If I am being perfectly honest, I was afraid people would judge me for trying to sell these products. But who am kidding? People are going to judge no matter what!

I had to come up with something that I was passionate about. Something, I could do for fun; something I enjoyed. I had to take the money out of the equation and figure out what I wanted! I took the first step in 2016 and earned my Personal Training Certification. I realized that my passion lies within helping those around me. I wanted to help them realize they could achieve what they felt was the impossible…to live a healthy life, to feel good about who they are, and surpass any challenge put in front of them. My particular Personal Training Certification required me to complete an internship. I was graciously accepted by the YMCA and later became employed as one of their Wellness Coaches. I continue to work there part-time.

My husband retired from the military in April 2017. He is by far better at the fitness world than I am. I love it! I love helping people find new ways of working out that will challenge their strength, agility, and core fitness. But he is a beast! I talked him into getting his personal training certification because I could see the passion in him. I knew it would provide a greater focus for him.

So I am happy to announce my newest business adventure; a true entrepreneurship! 214 Fitness! My husband and I are both veterans. Therefore, 214 Fitness is a veteran owned small business. At the end of any military career, regardless of time spent in, the veteran receives a DD Form 214 that details their career. Hence, the birth of 214 Fitness. In addition, our two sons currently serve in the military. The name is fitting all around!

Setting up your own business is a true challenge and a struggle. It can be daunting and exciting and frustrating at the same time. Fear! Fear of the unknown! Will it be successful? Will it be just another adventure that I fail at? Will people really want to invest in my services? If they do invest in my services, will they enjoy it? Is there someone out that I can make a true impact on? How can I make my fitness different from all the others currently out there? These are all the questions (and more!) that float through my head as I make a check mark off my “To Do” List.

We set up the EIN number. Registered for a business bank account. Obtained a website domain that still needs to be set up. Now what? Where do we go from here? We still need a logo and my creative brain is on hiatus. We need website content. That takes clients that I have not yet acquired. Social media! I hate the idea of having use social media! I only get on Facebook when I receive a messenger notification. Media and advertising…still need the logo and content. I feel like I am in this vicious never-ending circle. I’m excited…yet afraid!

March Madness – Raising Baby Chicks

Maybe it’s the pain in my heart from losing my long lost friend, Mister Bascums. That pain became immensely intense when my son, Brandon, returned from his deployment to Romania. It just didn’t feel right not having Mr. B around. I’m not sure why having my son home made the void seem so much bigger. It was almost unbearable at times. So I went searching to fill that void…

Spring was in the air. The sun was warm. The breeze slightly cool. I only had to work at the YMCA until 11:00 am. I was filled with new energy. I wanted to plant flowers, build my chicken coop before the arrival of baby chicks, and start a garden that is destined to die at my hands. As I worked with members at the YMCA, the only thing I could thing about was getting home to experience the fresh warmth of the sun rays, the feel of soil between my fingers tips, and the smell of grass and flowers. Eventually, the latter would send me into months of not being able to breathe, head congestion, and non-stop sneezing. In fact, my husband has banned me from ever mowing the grass because of this. That does not make me love the smell of spring any less.

I contacted Karen. You know, my co-conspirator in these challenges. She’s been MIA – a silent partner at this point. We won’t hold that against her, as she has found herself an new Beau, Steve. She has been a little preoccupied with his presence lately. That is perfectly okay because she seems so happy! Anyways, I was fortunate to get a hold her. She agreed, her and Steve, would meet me at the Tractor Supply Company where I buy some of my garden supplies. We discovered the baby chicks.  They were Golden Hens. The Red Hens, I really wanted, could not be guaranteed not to have a rooster in the mix. I just had to have these Golden Hens! They were amazingly beautiful! The only problem I had was a warm place to keep them because I do not have a garage. But at least, now, I could mark another challenge off this Ultimate Bucket List, Raise Chickens and Enjoy Fresh Eggs (#40).

Karen and Steve helped me figure out a way to keep them at my house. Steve even helped Wes build the chicken coop. In order for the chicks to stay in the house, we constructed a Rubbermaid box, added a heat lamp, and some straw. We used old lids for food and water. I can’t help myself! Every time, I pass by them, I have to pick them up and play with them. Love on them. Talk to them.

Neptune, my three year old English Mastiff, was infatuated by them. He would just stand there and stare at them like they were creatures from another planet. The last set of chickens we had, he would chase them, pin them down, and lick on them. He never once hurt them. He just loved playing with them. Unfortunately, the hawks had a different use for them. I don’t know who was more devastated over that, him or I. I even tried to accuse the propane man of taking them because I could not fathom the idea of a hawk taking off with them.


One week went past, my husband informed me that we lost one of the four. I was so hurt by that. I started to get really sad about it. Then, I realized that even my grandmother could not save them all. It is like she was speaking to me. Letting me know that it would be okay. You see, she used to have all kinds of chickens, doves, horses, goats. I think that is where my love for nature comes from. She had garden pots all over her lawn, growing such things as jalapeño peppers, green peppers, tomatoes. You name it, she could grow it. She even raised baby chicks from the egg. Yes, she hatched them under a light. When one of the chicks didn’t make it, she would call me and I would run over and bury it. I would even make a cross made of sticks at its grave site.

My Granny did not pass on her green thumb or the ability to raise animals to me. In fact, I don’t think I acquired any talent from the family tree. I have the biggest brown thumb any one could imagine. As stated before, my voice would make doves cry. My artistic ability is the imagination in my head that never makes it to paper. BUT, it doesn’t stop me from trying! I still hold on to the idea that Granny is directing me from heaven on how to plant flowers and vegetables, what to feed them to make them grow, and giving me enough of her love for animals to raise my own. I think of her when I hear the birds singing in the morning. I imagine it is she that is singing to me.

When I am really stumped for answers and Granny is taking too long to give them to me, I just pick up the phone and call my mom. She has all the answers! She too can grow anything and is a master at concocting the most unusual things.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein

February Challenge – A Month of Starts

January came and went. I completed my Life List item and was on my way to deciding what to do for February…or so I thought. As it turns out, the rules were changed on me. I was discussing the activities with Karen and my husband, Wes, both of which are sticklers for details. They informed me that my January challenge was invalid. Apparently, I cannot choose an activity that I have completed in the past. Therefore, since I have donated to and have completed the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure event in the past, albeit not a hundred miles, I cannot count that for January’s Challenge. I think that should have been established in the beginning. What do you think? I’m right, aren’t I? Anyways, I decided that I am not going to let that set me back.

Instead, I am going to write about the experiences of the ones I have done (at least what I can remember of them) and actually complete the ones I haven’t.

I actually have a few things to present for February. Since these are continuous challenges, I have provided a snap shot of what is to come…

The first one, well it’s kind of obvious and probably really should have been completed in January. But remember, I am extremely computer illiterate and I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. It is the challenge of Starting a Blog and Keeping It Going for at Least a Year (#37). As you can probably tell by now…I am not a writer. I am not even good at reading or speaking for that matter. In fact, I hate it. Writing, that is! I was never good at writing diaries either; coupled with the fact I have never had any privacy in my life. Who wants to put their feelings out there for the world to discover, to create another path in which people judge you (without really seeing who you truly are). Yet, here I am. Trying desperately to achieve what I have never been able to accomplish. Each time I have tried, my words get tangled, my mind frazzled, and the things I want to say don’t sound like they do in my head. How many of you out there have had this very same problem? I risk myself becoming the butt of everyone’s jokes each time I speak. It happens, I know. I have heard the comments, witnessed the reactions, and felt the stares. It’s the price to pay when you are so different from everyone around you. As for the blog, we will just have to see how successful it becomes…or not!

The next item…Master My Physical Fitness Level (#214), actually goes along with a few fitness challenges this month. I must ask, does anyone really ever master their physical fitness level or meet their goal weight? Is it truly possible? For me, each time I think I have made it there, the level would change and a new goal was set making it seem as if I was never going to get to that “Master” level. That goes right along with Reaching My Goal Weight (#10)! At least this is the way it felt when I finally made my goal weight at 125 at the wise old age of 22. Then I maxed out at 114 when I was desperately trying for 110, which I never accomplished! I can only assume that if I had reached that goal, I would tried yet again to reach a smaller weight goal. Anyways, my weight has always been a constant roller coast. It has always been something I was teased about…”the fat chick”. Unfortunately, since being diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, it has been a steady incline. I have set a new goal weight to accomplish by May 2018. Let the games begin!

Part of “mastering” my fitness level is training for the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure event. To truly challenge myself, I elected to  participate in the 100 mile ride. Crazy, yes! But this is a challenge after all! This weekend, I did just that. I went on a training ride with Team Portsmouth. An awesome group, I might add. This ride allowed me to complete the Bicycle Across a Bridge (#251) challenge. Not just once but FOUR times in one day. It stressed my physical fitness ability along with my mental state! As we were passing over the first bridge, I wanted to look over the side to see what was out there. I just couldn’t. I had to concentrate on staying on the bike and pushing up the hill, reaching the top at barely 5 miles per hour according to my Garmin 910XT watch. I later found out that my watch was not calibrated correctly. Bridges two and three were no different. I was so excited to make it up bridge three, I yelled with a sigh of relief. The last bridge took every once of energy I could muster. I felt like Thomas the Train trucking up the hill. Instead of telling myself “I think I can”, it was “I know I can, I know I can!” Over and over, as the Caboose kept motivating and guiding me along.

I think I personally coined the name “TURTLE” for myself this weekend. I was the lag of the team. There were times I truly wanted to cry, not from pain, but embarrassment of not being able to keep up. The faster my legs pedaled the slower it seemed I was going. I would pedal and pedal and pedal. It seemed as if I was going no where fast! After all, my trusty ol’ Garmin told me I has biking 176 rpm at some points in the ride. Remember the part that it’s not calibrated properly?! On our return trip, I was thinking…”I don’t live very far from here. I could just pedal home.” As it turned out, the Head of the Train and the Caboose would not allow me to quit. (I was somewhere in the middle of the train trying to keep up! Because let’s face it, I’m no Thomas!) They kept telling me I could do it, it was only a few more miles. It was then I realized, I was matched with the perfect team…”leave no rider behind”! Then my pride, determination, and competitive nature took over. I realized there was no way, I could quit! I would have to face my husband and admit to him I had a weakness! I could NOT allow that to happen ~ admitting I was too weak to finish! NEVER! I have always felt a competitive spirit against my husband.

In fact, that’s the main reason I ran a marathon (#20) and then another and then an Ultra Marathon. If he could do it, so could I! (Although, he has only done one.)  To me, part of being a Special Warfare wife meant being strong and fighting through the challenge. I was raised to never let your teammates down! I would never allow my children to quit or even think about quitting something they started. Even now that they are in their 20’s, how could I face them to tell them I quit something, I gave up and it was only a training ride?!

Team Portsmouth

As if I did not challenge myself enough with the 100 mile bike ride, I felt I would go the extra mile and challenge myself to a Triathlon (#235). I have always wanted to complete a triathlon. At least, ever since my husband completed one when we were stationed in Puerto Rico. He made it seem so effortless. I have watched him swim in the pool many times during the 24 years we have been together. I watch him with such amazement and such awe at the way he moves through the water. He seems at peace and comfortable; like he belongs there. This year, I decided I would try it. Only I had to get over my fear of drowning. I decided, I was not going to be able to unless I just jumped in with both feet! I admit, he has tried to teach me many times over the years. I think he eventually gave up on my inabilities to follow through and understand his teachings. But I talked him into giving me another chance. He really is a great instructor. I enjoy these moments with him…I just get frustrated at myself because I understand what he is saying, I just can’t seem to perform the technique right. Maybe it is because I almost drowned as a child. The fear of putting my head under water and breathing is very overtaking at times. I did discover that you can cough under water. The weirdest thing to experience. I kept telling myself that I could do it. I could make it to the other end, performing as he stated. I just needed to breathe out in the water, slow my pace, and get comfortable. Well, that did not happen this go around. He even stated that swimming may not be my “for-tay”. Whatever that means! I am still going to try because I AM going to compete in this triathlon. In fact, I have signed up for swim lessons at the YMCA!