My Brain Says…but My Heart Says…!

One of my challenges from My Bucket List is to write a Business Plan for a Company I’ve Been Thinking About (#280). While I have not actually written a business plan for 214 Fitness, a mobile fitness company I started with my husband; I have had quite a few other challenges in getting its operation running smoothly.

I know that I am supposed to be using empowering words. Words that make me feel like a Rock Star! At least, Tanya Aliza stresses this in her Welcome to Unlimited Fan Page Profits! training. I am taking her training to learn how to set up a Face Book Fan Page for 214 Fitness. (I guess, I can mark off Take An Online Course To Better Myself (#272). Anyway, I have been working on this training for months. I have been working on a website for months. I have been working on brochures for months. Nothing seems to be coming together for me when it comes to setting up a profitable fitness business. It seems I have exceeded my creative mental capacity to design anything remotely pleasing to the eye or attractive enough to entice someone to sign on as a client.

Yesterday, my emotions got the best of me. I was feeling like a failure in the business arena, a failure as a wife-which goes in line of my failure as an athlete, a failure at financial independence, a failure at my full-time “real” job! Ultimately, I was feeling like a failure of LIFE

Being Challenged In Life Is Inevitable, Being Defeated Is Optional. – Roger Crawford

All I could think about was my inability to get this business running and make it successful. I have one client that I have had for seven months. I had another that was really inconsistent and rarely showed for training sessions. I had another that signed a contract and backed out at the last minute. All I get are excuses! Too many to list. Then I thought about my own inconsistencies: inadequate planning, taking on too much other task, helping others instead of focusing on my business and my own fitness, getting side tracked with home, life, social events. These are all valid excuses that makes this whole business adventure not seem worth the time of day. People offer to help but never come around to it.

The fact is my own insecurities get in the way.  I was never designed to be a great athlete…or athlete at all; for that matter. Hell, I didn’t even know there was  a such thing as organized recreational sports until I had children. I thought sports were only played for school teams. Maybe I did know but never realized it was a thing. I tried Track my Junior year in high school. I was awful! I was FAT! I had no skill. I certainly could not run! Ultimately, I was an embarrassed myself and the team! Who was I to think I could ever be part of a team? I had a coach (not surprising that I can’t remember her name) that didn’t really care if I was there or not. She witnessed my inabilities and rather than “coach” me to be good at something, she threw me in on the shot-put. By the way, I couldn’t throw either. I have never had upper body strength! I still cannot do a pull up; even if you put a gun to my head! When she didn’t have enough runners for an event, she threw me on the roster at the last minute. I did not know the difference between a 400 meter and 800 meter track run. There was no one-on-one coaching to help me improve or talks about how I could get better or what I needed to do to fix my weight to make it easier. What do you think I did to overcome this embarrassment? I did something even more embarrassing. Ridiculous actually! I started smoking so I would have an excuse not to join the team my senior year. I had smoked off and on since I was seven years old and it just seemed like the thing to do to cope with everything wrong in my life. However, it became one of the reasons I wanted to open 214 Fitness. I wanted an avenue for young teens and adults to get the training they needed to succeed in whatever sport they wanted to participate in. I want them to be able to choose a different outlet to cope with life and not turn to tobacco products, drugs, or alcohol.  I wanted to be the mentor and the motivator to help them become the best “THEM”!

Lately, I feel I can’t even do that for myself. I feel like I am suffocating most days; watching myself move forward while I am planted in one place. How can I truly help someone else? As least that is what the brain is saying…the heart says “You care way too much to give up on a dream. There are way too many people that need your help!” The brain tells me, “It’s embarrassing for your husband to weigh less than you.” My heart is telling me, “You are fine! You look great! You are beautiful inside and out!” Sometimes, it’s hard to truly feel what the heart is telling you. I have battled weight issues my entire life. I have dealt with name calling, sounds made as I walk down the passageway at school, notes left on lockers. Sadly, that stuff does not stop when you become an adult. I dealt with the same scenarios and some worse while I was stationed in the military. Those memories are why I fought so hard to lose weight when I was stationed in Puerto Rico. It seemed everyone around me was thin and beautiful. I just wanted to be thin and beautiful too. I married and got pregnant; well I got pregnant then got married. After our son was born we went to visit my husband’s family in Texas. His mother was thin and his sister was thinner. I felt like an over-inflated baboon around them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I never heard anything but kind words from them. I am fortunate to be a part of such an amazing, giving, and supportive family. But it did not stop me from feeling fat and insecure. That pressure did motivate me to lose weight. When I joined the military I was roughly 165 pounds. Probably more! I worked out morning, noon, and night. I watched every morsel of food I ate, counted every calorie. I dropped to 114 pounds. I felt so alive. I had so much energy. I loved myself. For the first time in my life, I really did love myself!

Recently, I had talked with my mother and she described her weight loss. She isn’t even trying to lose weight; it’s just happening. Just what I needed to hear at a time I am processing my “fat” talks. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for her efforts (and a little worried that she is losing too much weight). But…I am instantly frustrated! Here I am fighting my entire body’s system to lose weight I have gained since retirement. I am fighting hypothyroidism that doesn’t want to correct itself. I am fighting my mental anguish over the lack of energy and motivation to do anything. I get nowhere. My brain says, “You’re a personal trainer! How can you expect people to want you to train them. You don’t even look like a trainer?!” I feel like I should be on a Fat-Farm! All I want is to look good, feel good, have energy to get through the day without an energy drink or a nap or two, or sometimes three. I want to feel strong and conditioned. What I really want is that feeling of love and happiness I had for myself in Puerto Rico. I felt amazing, energetic, unstoppable. I miss that feeling! But I can’t get it back.

I also have to assess there are things that I am not doing right to get where I need to be. Consistent training and nutrition! Yes, even personal trainers can get off track! I know that my workout routines have been greatly inconsistent since I have been battling pharyngitis, bronchitis, and allergies since Memorial Day. Then there was the high heart rate during runs that concerned my husband enough to insist I get my heart check out before starting to train again. While most of the symptoms are gone; the cough wants to become a permanent inhabitant of my body and my heart turned out to be extremely healthy (as I had told him). I am finally starting to be more consistent in training sessions. I hired a coach to help me get back on track. Dennis Welch of the Dennis Welch Endurance Project. I met Dennis when he lived here in Virginia. We ran in the same running group. Once that group broke off, he started his own. I was training for a marathon with another group and would see the workouts he would do at a local park. He was very intimidating…reminded me of my husband when he would do his workouts. Their concepts were very similar. Anyways, Dennis’ training sessions are brutal! I feel like I can’t even get through a quarter of the workout. I used to get frustrated when I would review them. I would think, “There is no way in hell I can do this! I don’t have that kind of strength or stamina. I am starting completely over. It has been years since I trained for a running event. How does he expect me to do all this within these limitations?” But every time, I go out I have to try to match the plan. That’s the perfectionist in me. Even if I know, It is way beyond my current ability I have to try!

For instance, on my Monday run (Aug 19), the plan as written was:

  • 20:00 warmup of tire pull or easy run, then
  • 10 x 800m at MRP in minutes and seconds, with equal rest recovery jog or walk between as needed.
  • So, to execute, let’s say that your MRP is equivalent to a 3 hour marathon, which would be 3:00:00. So you would then make the hour into minutes and the minutes into seconds. So in this case, you’d run your 800s in 3 minutes. If your MRP is equivalent to a 4 hour marathon, then you’d run your 800s in 4 minutes.

I could not even do a quarter of what was on the plan; partly due to family and schedule commitments. My 20 minute warmup ended at 15 minutes. My 800 meters at Marathon Race Pace (MRP) followed by an 800 meter recovery run/walk between sets was a disaster! Ultimately, I was to complete 800 meters in 5 minutes, jog or walk 800 meters in 5 minutes for 10 sets. I felt pretty good with the first 800 meters but the second set became a run/walk. I ended it at the second set because it was like I was pushing a bulldozer around the track. I felt defeated! So many emotions became too overwhelming to continue. I felt like I lost myself over these past few years and I can’t find me. In fact, during my workout, I could see a vision of me running in the distance ahead, the physical me is steadily dropping back until the vision of me is no longer visible. Now, I have left myself behind! I’m no where in sight. I don’t know where I went. I’m struggling to keep up! It’s all just too fast! Frustration, confusion, feeling lost. Those are the words I feel. Unaccomplished, unsuccessful, failure plague my inner being. I feel myself trying to claw myself out of a hole. The darkness is too great. I can’t see ahead!

Remember, I said that I was inconsistent in training and lacked nutritional value. I believe the nutritional value is the key to these emotions spiraling downward. These feelings stem from not being able to perform at a level I once was at. I can barely push this 159.6 pound body to get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. When I finally jump out of bed at 5:15, I quickly throw on some clothes (that I did not take the time to lay out the night before), use the bathroom, get a drink of water, take my morning Synthroid for the hypothyroidism, and rush out the door no later than 5:24. Yes, it is just that specific! There is no time for breakfast in this scene! Plus, I have to wait 30 minutes before I can eat. Notice too, that I did not grab a lunchbox. So let’s continue…Leaving any later than 5:24 , I play hell getting a parking spot in the designated parking lot at work. I reach the parking lot by 5:45 most mornings in order to get a parking spot. If I find my timeline is off while driving, I rush as fast as I can to get back on schedule. I finally make it to the parking lot and it gives me time for a short nap before heading into work at 6:20. Still no breakfast. If I get so hungry that I start to shake, I will visit the Rusty Anchor for some breakfast. Nothing in that joint is healthy; unless you consider scrambled eggs with egg shells healthy. Lunchtime…takes way too long to arrive. All I want is to head to my car for another nap. Finally, 11:30 arrives and I head to my car for that short nap I had been waiting all morning for. Forget food! Sleep is way more important. Unfortunately, thirty minutes is never long enough. The alarm goes off at 11:59 and I head back to work. The afternoon drags on forever! Finally, 2:50pm and it’s time to leave the office for the day. I either visit a personal training client or head home. The choices then become workout, clean my much neglected house, or Uber my husband and friend to our next social engagement. It is usually a brewery, a concert, or a local restaurant. Sometimes, it’s all three. It never stops! Oftentimes, my husband will ask me if I ate anything that day. Of course, I lie and say yes so I avoid a confrontation. When he was deployed, my sons were his spies to make sure I ate. I have this aversion to food in the sence that I don’t like to take time to eat. It takes too much time when there are so many other things I need to do.

Honestly, I feel like I sabotage myself. My physical fitness, my weight, everything! I don’t know why. Maybe I don’t deserve to look and feel sexy. Maybe all those school kids were right, my father,…maybe…I’m just fat! Maybe that’s my destiny. Maybe, I had fooled myself all those years ago thinking I was anything of an athlete; a runner. Maybe the strides I made to get better was just a fluke. I wasn’t really supposed to be able to run 9:30 minute miles. Maybe, I wasn’t really supposed to run multiple half marathons, two full marathons, or even a 50K Ultra marathon. Actually, Dennis says there are some people that have not business running. Maybe, I’m one of them! After all, with all the training I put in, I still wasn’t running very fast. At least, that is what my brain wants me to think! My heart tells me that I was destined to be great! I was destined to influence, motivate, and encourage all those people that are just like me in their struggles. People are watching you even when you don’t know they are watching. People are imitating you, even when you are at your worst. People need other people to inspire to be like. Ok, maybe that is only me admiring the abilities of other and wanting to do the same! 

This week, I decided to make a change. Changes are never easy. I set my alarm at 4:30 so I can do a little strength training or maybe some yoga before getting dressed for work…I have not been successful at this yet. Just like Dennis’ workouts, I will keep trying until I get them right. I did manage to take time to hang out with my husband. Really hang out. We ran together…ok, we were in the same park running; just not side by side. We had dinner together…YES, I COOKED! We even watched some TV shows together. It made me realize just how much I missed hanging out with him and working out with him. That was a good win to this change process! Life takes on so much of us that sometimes we forget what is truly important. Sometimes, we let others dictate how we spend our time and we forget to take time for ourselves. Sometimes, we let the opinion of others dictate how we should feel about ourselves. We are all different. We all have different struggles. We all have those mental images of perfection we must battle. We are all perfectly beautiful in our own way. God made us all different for a reason. We are unique. Embrace what makes you unique!  

Success Is Due To Our Stretching To The Challenges Of Life. Failure Comes When We Shrink From Them. – John C. Maxwell

October – Unconventional Challenge

My Bucket List Challenge for October is a little unconventional but it definitely touched on my comfort zone. The month was filled with excitement, new prospects, uncertainty, and celebration. I made the decision to journey down a new path in employment. I left the comforts of my previous employer to take on a mission with a new company. Any one that knows me, knows how extremely difficult this was. I don’t like change! It’s not easy for me to adjust to new environments. Learning new people is an extreme task all on its own. 

This journey to employment change actually started in February. I told only a handful of people. I was even reluctant to tell my husband. What if the deal fell through? I didn’t want to seem like a failure.  Eventually, I had to look at it in a different manner. Not failure but a new opportunity! I had to realize that some change, as scary as it may be, is actually good. In fact, it could be rewarding. The new prospective company had sought me out through LinkedIn where my resume is posted. Obviously, if a company that only knew me through a computer based software saw something in me, I had to start believing in myself. I knew I had to make a change. I wanted to make a change. My old job was slowly killing me; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was becoming someone that was truly not of my character. I was growing increasingly unhappy, bitter, and even sometimes, downright mean spirited. 

Yet, I was afraid to jump into another “contract” company because let’s face it…no matter what anyone tells you, “the grass is NOT always greener” on the other side of the fence.  I agreed to move forward as if I were going to take this position to give myself time to figure out what “I” wanted. More importantly, what I “NEEDED”! I attended a mandatory course and started the onboarding procedures. May rolls around and I had been skipped over for this hiring phase. I wasn’t upset as I knew there were four people in line for the position and two were unemployed. I’d like to assume it went to those that “needed” the job. I figured it just meant it wasn’t my time to leave my present company. After all, I loved the company I was working for. My supervisors were very supportive. The company has great benefits. The managers are eager to help in any way possible but even they have limits.  While I was allowed to participate in certain company programs, it had to be outside company time, any courses for job development was outside company time, there was no compensation for attending job development education events or courses. Therefore, I stopped doing those extra things that set me apart. Well, honestly, that came after my second payroll reduction. I had taken two huge pay reductions in a matter of six months. I didn’t see any point in paying money out of my own pocket when they weren’t even meeting the area average for the job I was doing. Again, I really loved the company but there were aspects to the job and “other” associates of the job that I could no longer subject myself to. I knew I was capable of so much more than the “associates” gave me credit for. There was room for process improvement but only a select few wanted to improve the process. 

September is in full churn and I was contacted again about accepting a position at a new company. Yes, the one from the previous inquiry. After much discussion with my husband; the going back and forth, the what-ifs, and the maybes, I decided to move forward. I knew there was something more for me. I knew there was a job that would lead me to “employment happiness” and I wasn’t going to find it unless I stepped outside my comfort zone, set aside my loyalty concepts, and jumped with faith two feet forward. While in the midst of accepting a position at this new company, I was interviewed by another very promising company. This really gave me an ego boost…to think there were two companies that wanted to hire me at the same time! Turns out, they were merging together to become one so I don’t know if it really counts. It’s now October, and the day finally comes where I give my notice. You can really tell your worth in the eyes of others when they have to bid on your services. My present company didn’t even try to come close to the mark! They didn’t even try to meet my original starting wage. Worse yet, after explaining all the complications with the position I held, even if I had stayed, nothing would have changed. 

Change is sometimes good! It allows you to open up to better opportunities and self-growth. It challenges you to experience life. After all, life is going to happen so we might as well join in on the fun. I have enjoyed this change. I, at one point, would cry all the way to work and dread getting out of my car because I really could not deal with the mundane environment and the negativity that filled the air on a constant basis. Now, I have to be at work much earlier than I am used to but I get off earlier too. I work with some pretty amazing people; supportive, informative, and charismatic. My car is no longer filled with tears of dread in the morning but an excitement to find out what the new day has ahead. How long will this feeling last? I ask myself that but I am going just to live in the moment. Enjoy the experience while I can and be happy with the change!

End the end, if this position goes away, if the contract is not renewed…I can feel confident that I have the ability to take another promising employment opportunity with another company! I no longer have to the fear of what I would do if I lost my job. I can just enjoy the fact that I have a job and can always find another if necessary!

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” –Confucius

What adventure will it be?

Why does everything always have to be an obsession with me? Everything I do turns into this over-the-top, meet the extreme obstacles event. I did it with my college education, with running, and now this Bucket List Challenge. As my obsession grows, so does the cost of the adventures that I want to take part in. I really should have kept my job at the YMCA to help pay for some of these adventures.

After our whitewater rafting trip last month, I decided to make July the Water Adventure Month! We are two weeks into July and I have endlessly researched water events. Yet, I have not solidified which adventure I will take part in.

First, I checked into scuba diving lessons with Chesapeake Bay Diving Centers. I am a certified scuba diver (of sorts!). I achieved my qualification through IDEA while stationed in Puerto Rico. However, I have not been on a dive the whole time I have lived in Virginia (since 1996). I feel I should probably recertify. In my telephone interview, I discovered that Chesapeake Bay Diving Centers offers certifications through Scuba Schools Internationals. Since I am, technically, qualified, I can get a thorough refresher by auditing one of their classes, pool session, and open water session for $200. My next option was to attend a beginners course. This is probably my best option since I struggle with any activity water related…umm, still training for that triathlon. It consisted of three-3 hour sessions for $300. However, there is a mandatory Lake Phoenix checkout dive bringing the total cost of the course to $500. These cost do not include the cost of any equipment you may need for the course. The upside to this is you receive a $25 credit if you purchase these items through them.

My next challenge was sailing lessons. I discovered that the naval base offers sailing lessons. Again, it’s not a cheap thrill. It is $25 per hour for a minimum of 8 hours for private lessons. That’s a total of $200 for private lessons. The other alternative is a two-hour lesson for $50 per person.

Then I checked into parasailing and surfing lessons. Parasailing with Adventure Parasail was a tiered flight pricing. A 600-ft flight was $80 per person, 800-ft was $85, and 1000-ft was $90. They do have discounts you can take advantage of but I recommend calling them. The flight length is 10 – 12 minutes with the total boat tour lasting approximately one hour. I was excited to hear that the Captain would video the excursion if requested. They would also take pictures. It consisted of an SD-card at $33 for up to three people or $35 for four or more. Additionally, they take polaroid pictures for $11.

I was really excited to see that VB Surf Sessions offered a reasonable rate for their lessons. A private lesson is $99 for 0ne-2 hour session and a group rate of $79 for one-2 hour session. After that, I could rent a board to continue to practice for anywhere from $20 – $30 depending on how long I wanted to rent the board. I am in luck because they have a session on Sunday. My niece, Emily, really wants to learn how to surf so I already have a companion to go with me! That is the true bonus right there!

So what adventure will  I choose? If I were to choose right now, with availability and funding probably surfing. No, I think parasailing because it would really test my fear of heights. Then again, scuba lessons would allow me to swim with the dolphins…maybe?! I know it will definitely not be sailing because all the classes were full. BUMMER!

Tune to find out which adventure won the raffle. I think I will just pin each of them up on a dart board, throw a dart, and see which one wins!

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!

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

The Boring and Mundane Tale

It’s always hard to write about ones self, don’t you think? I can never decide how to start an introduction on myself. Everything just sounds so corny and do people really care where I’ve come from or what I’ve done the last 45 years of my life? It is rather a boring and mundane tell, but let’s give it shot…

“The average introduction to almost any book is somewhat of a bore”
Boris Karloff, And the Darkness Falls

I was born in a small Southern town and lived in a small brick home surrounded by corn fields. That small home later became a mobile home. We did not have much money, so I began working at the ripe old age of 13. There wasn’t much time for play or Tom Sawyer adventures. Which was fine because I was rather shy and never made many friends and wasn’t allowed to hang with anyone anyways.

At the age of 16, I was transplanted up North where the winters were brutally cold. Yeah, no fun when you are used to warm weather and the feeling of the sun basking on your skin. I didn’t make many friends. Again, I was rather shy. I wasn’t athletic; although I did try Track my Junior year. I think I embarrassed myself more than anything. I worked at a fast food joint the whole time I lived there. I managed to make it through high school but really did not have much going for me in the way of education or money. I felt like I was on a dead end street.

I decided to join the military. I soon left home, graduated boot camp, and found myself on an island on Christmas Day. That ended not to be a bad gig. I had the warmth of the sun basking my skin again; only this time it was year round. I would never complain about that. I met some of the most awesome people, on that island, including my husband. We have been married for 24 years now. We have two sons together. Both, have followed in our footsteps and joined the military. I retired a few years ago and my husband just retired in April 2017.


See, told you I was pretty mundane and boring. Hence the creation of this blog! I started this blog based on the book, My Ultimate Bucket List by Piccadilly. I wrote a blog, How It All Began.  You should check it out. It’s a pretty boring tell as well. My goal, moving forward, is to write about my own Life List and share my experiences, to overcome my fears, and inspire others to do the same. Let’s keep it real, I have some pretty ridiculous fears!

Anyways, one of the challenges in this book is to Start a Blog and Keep it Going for at Least a Year (#37). Well, let’s get started!

Fear of Challenges

Some of the items in this book would definitely peak my anxiety scale and worst, possibly give me a heart attack. That would certainly be the end of this challenge, wouldn’t it?! Other items were very interesting, some I have only ever read about in books. Some, I have already accomplished. Some just seem like they should never be on a Bucket List because they don’t seem challenging at all.

The worst of my fears would be challenged by events like wearing a snake around my neck (#67), jumping out of an airplane (#1), and getting hypnotized (#17). After all, I did make up my own snake dance one day when I opened up my back door and watched one quickly slither away. My heart was pounding at 1000 beats per second at that very moment. I hate to fly in airplanes when I travel. It’s cramped, smelly, and the seats are very uncomfortable. I can’t forget to mention that I always seem to get seated by the one person that wants to talk my head off the entire ride-when all I want to do is sleep or read a good book. That should be enough for me to want to jump out of one. Yeah, that’s not the case! After all, it is a perfectly well designed machine that can take me anywhere I want to go. And who wants to get hypnotized?! You have no idea what you are doing at that moment. People can make you do the most ridiculous things. Or worse, what if something happens to the person that hypnotized you and you are stuck that way forever? Ok, so obviously, I have no idea of how hypnotism works but seriously, think about it!


Some of the things I found quite interesting…Learn a new language (#6), but I can barely speak my native English language or memorize all the bones in the body. I often make up my own words. I am surprised my husband has not started a dictionary of all my made up words! Learning another language, interesting as it may be, probably not in my deck of cards to play. Attend a Séance (#27), interesting, it is but I would have to know what one is and what it entails before I commit to this activity. Then there is always, Participate in an Open Mic Night (#50). The only problem is, I can’t even sing in the shower, let alone in front of a bunch of people I don’t know. Carry a tune…doves would certainly cry. My Uncle Arthur can surely attest to that! Let’s just say he will never view karaoke the same.

I have accomplished several of these task already. For instance, take a cruise (#2). Does it count if you’ve only been on cruises (AKA, deployments) conducted on a US naval vessel? That counts for something. Right? I could sign that one off multiple times. I am sure my husband would disagree considering he is a stickler for details. I could use that to my advantage and he will just have to schedule a cruise. Preferably some place warm like the Caribbean! I have also ridden in a helicopter (#14) while transiting from Bahrain to that cruise ship at sea. Just so you know, the cruise ship is that naval vessel I mentioned. Again, I don’t think my husband would count this as being complete…maybe he will let this one slide. The one I am most proud of completing is, running in a Marathon and finishing (20). I was part of a great team and had a couple of amazing coachs. It was hard work but well worth the effort I put in. It gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most fabulous, awesome, and amazing people. But we can talk about that experience later on, as this story progresses…