Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Solace in Running


First off, let me just say that I am not a runner.  In my entire adulthood (let's call it 20 years), I have gone for a run when I was extremely bored with any other type of workout, when I had brief inspirations of wanting to be a runner, or just to check-in on my fitness level every so often just to see if I could still run x amount of miles in x amount of time like I was able to x years before.

This past summer I ran my first 5K just for the fun of it and just because I knew that I could do it without little to no training.  What I found was that the whole race experience was really cool and added some flavor to just running on my own.  I liked it so much that I decided to sign up for a Jingle Bells 5K Run in December, which was even more fun (and festive)!  Again, I knew that I could run a 5K without any training, especially since my goal was just to simply complete the race and to do it in under 30 minutes (since I know that I am capable of that too).  I placed no pressure or exertion on myself other than having to wake up and run first thing in the morning and the risk of poor weather.  (P.S.  It was in the 40's for the Jingle Bell Run!!!  A perfect running day!!!)

Fast forward two months... I am in the midst of training for a half-marathon!!!  I turned 39 in December and quite honestly, I am having some issues with turning the big 4-0.  So back in December, I signed up for the NYC Half Marathon Lottery with the intention of doing something big before I turned forty and also knowing in the back of my head that I wouldn't get picked.  Well... I did get picked.   And I didn't know if I should have cheered or cried when I got that e-mail.  I think I did both, lol.

I immediately found a training program to follow (Hal Higdon's) and I just finished week 6 of my training.   What does week 6 of half marathon for the beginner entail?  Well, my two short runs for the week were 4 miles and my long run was 6 miles.  I did my long run yesterday and it was a gorgeous 50 degree sunny day.  I've been lucky, the weekend before was mild for a NYC January and I ended up running 6.5 miles instead of the 6.  So yesterday I had to push myself further and I ended up running 6.75 miles in just over 62 minutes!  For the first time ever, I ran two laps inside of Prospect Park in Brooklyn!

It's taken 6 weeks to for me to run just half of what I will do in exactly 8 weeks from today!  When I look at it that way it seems daunting.  However, if I look at how my ability to run long distance has tremendously improved in only 6 weeks, I am amazed.  The thought of running 4 miles before was uncomfortable, but doable.  Anything beyond that was just crazy talk!  But now, those distances are becoming my short runs!!

*      *      *      *      *      *

The solace in running...

Despite the option of having running partner(s), running is essentially a solo sport.  I am a lone trainer and along with finding triumph in achieving my weekly goals, I have also found solace in running.  

I am running 45-60+ minutes each time I go out for a run now.  That's a lot of alone time with nothing other than myself and my thoughts.  What do I think about when I run?  Honestly, I am so focused on what I need to do that I am not daydreaming or stressing about what I should or could or need to be doing... I am truly in the moment.  (Last year at this time I was taking a mindful mediation class to me refocus and find that in the moment appreciation and living.  Who knew I just needed to go for a run, a long run!)

As I said in the opening, I am not a runner.  Even now, I am still not a runner.  I am a woman with a goal in mind.  If I continue to run after that half-marathon, then maybe I will consider myself a runner, but until then, I am not.  So, because I am not a runner and it doesn't come naturally to me, the majority of my thoughts while running are "keep going," "you got this," "one foot in front of the other," "just keep going," and "you're almost done!"  LOL... it's all motivational.  I have too, otherwise I don't think I would ever make it.  So essentially, I am telling myself nothing but positive, uplifting, and motivational things for an hour straight!!  Do you know how awesome that is?!?!?  

I've also learned to listen to my body.  I listen to my breathing.  I listen to my heartbeat.  I listen to the tightness in my legs or the soreness in my feet.  I have to pay attention to what my body is telling me.  (Our bodies are so smart and they communicate too, we just need to pay attention and listen.)  When I hit that wall and I want to quit... I ask myself do I want to quit because I am feeling out of breath and I might faint?  Do I want to quit because I am not in the mood to run?  Or do I just need to bust through this wall knowing that I will feel better in just a few minutes?  (I'll only stop for the first one.)  Sometimes my legs tighten up and I pay attention to that too.  Can I wiggle it out between steps?  Is it loosening up with each step?  Or do I need to pull over and stretch out?  I never used to think it was okay to stop before (like I was cheating or wimping out) but now, if I need to stretch out that hamstring or anything else, without hesitation I will.  

I'm so busy listening and talking to myself (LOL... weirdo) that I don't run with headphones anymore.  I never thought that was possible!  I realized I didn't need them when one day I went out for a run and about 30 minutes later I realized that my iPod was on repeat and I had been listening to the same song for about 3 miles.  Yah, LOL.  So in between the "conversations" that I am having with myself, I enjoy the sounds of nature that I take in for brief moments more so than parts of a song from my play list.  

So just in case you don't think that I am weird enough, sometimes I have a "This is Us" moment while running.  Sometimes I pep talk myself so much, that I get emotional.  Yes, I have teared up while running.  It's such an awesome feeling when you accomplish something that you hate and especially when the process is so focused and so entirely you.  I just hope that I use up the tears that well up when I think about crossing that half marathon finish line so that I when I actually do, I'll only look like half of a hot mess.  

Does anyone have any running stories or any experiences similar to this?  Please tell me I am not the only one!!!  





Saturday, September 2, 2017

Goals

It's been a long time since I've set a true goal for myself.  I'm talking about a goal that needs to be worked for.  One that takes planning, time, patience, hard work, determination, frustration, and then some more determination.  A goal that can be definitively measured, not one that is subjective.  It's been a very long time and now that I have actually set a goal for myself, I feel that it has been something that I have been missing in my life.  I am a person who is driven by purpose.  Don't get me wrong, I love to have fun but if given the choice... doing something for fun or doing something for a purpose, 8 out of 10 times, I'll choose purpose.

So as some of you know, I have this Lemongrass Spa "Business."   I joined and started it up in April of 2015 and in those 2.5 years, I have done very little with it.  I honestly love the products, I love learning about them (and "science" behind natural skincare products and essential oils) and I love sharing them with people the small group of people that that I have comfortably gathered as customers.

I didn't start up this business for the money.  I didn't start it because I knew someone else who was a consultant (I still have yet to personally meet a fellow LGS sister).  I started it with no goal or end game in mind other than I wanted to try something different, something out of my comfort zone.  Over the course of the past two and half years, I have stepped out of my comfort zone (a tiny bit), but because I am not driven by any purpose, I can pull back whenever I want too.  This lack of purpose has also turned my "business" into more of a hobby of mine, because I do it purely for fun.  However, I don't do fun well.  Wait... that didn't come out right, lol.

What I mean is that I have a lot of fun creating graphics, growing my knowledge about the company and our products, and sharing it all on Facebook... but that fun isn't leading to anything significant.  Spending the amount of time that I do to do all of that, even though it's completely by my choice and I do enjoy it, has an empty purpose.

I do have a very small group of loyal customers whom are fantastic!  I love that they love Lemongrass Spa products and that I introduced something healthy into their lives.  That is very rewarding.  I also love that the majority of products in my home are Lemongrass Spa and that very little out of pocket money goes into that.  But I want more.  It's time to step out of the comfort zone, in more ways that one, and give myself a goal to work towards besides funding my own personal skincare products.

So my goal {drum roll}... is to donate $1000 from money I earn from my Lemongrass Biz to various charities over the course of 1 year.  In order to do this, that means that I will need to sell atleast $4000 in products in 1 year.  Now if any of you readers are direct sales peeps, that may not sound like a whole lot to you, but just to put it into perspective for me, I only sold $2500 worth in volume last year.  So I need to step up my game and sell atleast (not yet taking into consideration discounts, supplies, etc. that I will need to pay for) 60% more.   So I feel that $1000 is a goal that I can reach, not easily, but it's doable, if I put extra effort and drive into making it happen.  That is something that I look forward to doing.

So many people that I have seen thrive in direct sales is because they are looking for freedom... career wise and money wise.  It has been very hard for me to sell the business side of Lemongrass to others (no recruits here) because I am not driven by either.  I am fortunate enough that (although I have complaints) I love being a teacher and although there are time restraints, I feel equally fortunate that I have been able to have the best of both worlds, a good paying job with benefits and time to spend with my son and not feel like I missed out of anything by being at work and not at home.  Now I am driven by money... money that I hope can make an impact for others and $1000 is a good amount of money to do just that.

So... does anyone have any charities to suggest?  National, local, personal... I have some of my own in mind, but I am open to any and all.  

Truth



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Baby vs. Puppy

I've always been fascinated (and jealous) with women who know exactly how many children they want or don't want.  I'm sure it doesn't help make it any easier when their youngest outgrows those tiny little onesies and it's time to not repack them for the next, but to give them away.  But, at the same time, it must be a comfort and relief to know that you were able to make the decision yourself and to be at peace with it.

About 5 years ago I put a number (age) in my head to give myself an endpoint for having children.  I wasn't even dating anyone at the time, and I certainly hadn't met John.  But, it was a decision that I made just for me and I was completely comfortable with.  I was open to the fact that circumstances may change that number a bit, but it gave me a mental ballpark to help "prepare" me for the fact that I was getting older and for both safety and selfish reasons, it would be in my best interest to just be done.

When I made this decision 5 years ago, I had wanted another child.  Ewan was just shy of 3 and even though there wasn't anyone in my life at that moment, I felt that both Ewan and I were young enough where welcoming another child into our lives within the next few years would be wonderful.  The desire for another child even made me pass over some potential dates (online dating) just for the fact that they already had a heap load of children.  It's not that I am anti-children (I'm a teacher!), but I have seen first hand how tricky it can be to manage a handful of children from blended families.  From organizing schedules for visiting the other parent to finding room (NYC apartment living is tight), I closed myself up from those situations... because I could.  I was not in a hurry to meet someone, let alone marry again, so I could "afford" to be picky.

And then I met John.  He had never been married.  He didn't have any children.  Perfect!  Except for the fact that he did not want children.  That was a possibility that I had never considered and by the time we had reached that point in conversation, it was too late.  John was the one and his not wanting a child was not a deal breaker, although I had hope that he would change his mind still knowing that there was a strong possibility that he may not.  That is what caused me to really think and re-evaluate what I wanted and it was a struggle.

My struggle was accepting that fact that deep down, I was really at 50-50 with wanting another child. That's worse than any other ration because it's a deadlock.  A limbo, and I hate being in limbo.

Even though time was ticking, we had other milestone to reach first...  John and Ewan had to establish their relationship, we moved in together, we planned a wedding.  Our wedding led us right up to my number.  The number I had told myself 5 years ago was 38.  I have about 3 month left at being that age and I have not encountered any circumstances that justifies altering that number.

John still does not want another child.  Deep down, I am certain that if I told him that I wanted one, it would happen.  However, in the nearly 4 years that I have known him, I have never told him that.  As my window quickly approaches closure, what I have learned about myself is that I am okay with having just one child.  I have been all along, my fear was regret.  Not regret after 38, but regret later in life, when I am in my forties or fifties and beyond when the possibility for another child is completely out of my control.   Finding peace with my future self was a major part of the struggle because you just don't know.  But I do know 2 things...

1.  I just spent a week with a 1 year old and a puppy.  And at the end of the day, everyday to be exact, I wanted to leave with the puppy!

And

2.  Life has taught me that if you make what you feel to be the best decision at any given moment, then you have nothing to regret in the future.

So there you have it, Ewan is my one and only and he is perfect for the job!

What's your story?  How did you decide?

John doesn't want a dog either... but as soon as we are out of this apartment, it will happen!!



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ten

There are certain dates, milestones, and years that stand out more than others.  For biblical, mathematical, and sentimental reasons, 10 is one of those numbers.

For me, 10 marks the number of years that I have now lived in New York City.  Not including my hometown, I have lived in NYC longer than any other place (and I have moved often, or atleast I used to).  It's tough to describe New York City.  It's busy, fast, noisy, tough... it can be your worst nightmare.  But in the midst of all the craziness of this city you can also find peace, kindness, opportunities...  it can be your best friend.

10 years ago I moved to NYC from Virginia.  There really was no particular reason to move to NYC, it was more of a why not?  The why not was a strong pull though.  It required the selling of a house and a car and multiple yard sales and still having to move a quarter of my possessions into a storage unit because you can't fit a 2000 square foot home with land into a 1200 square foot apartment with a terrace.

In these 10 years, NYC has been both my worst nightmare and my best friend.  And if I could go back in time and make the decision to move here or not all over again, I am not sure what I would choose.  What I am sure of is that NYC would never have become my best friend if it had not allowed my greatest nightmare to come first.

Much of my story could have been written and shared 4 years ago.  At that time, it seemed to me that it was a good ending place.  But, did you know that the number 10 symbolizes the completion of a cycle?  And waiting to look back on my life over the past 10 years (rather than 6) makes such a remarkable difference.

10 years ago I did not move here alone as my single narration may have implied from above.  I moved here with a family.  Dale and I had been married for nearly 5 years, we had 2 dogs (Argyle and Skye), and I was about 10 weeks pregnant when we moved into our Brooklyn apartment.  Little did we I know, we I actually stepped onto a rollercoaster...

We never found out if it was the stress of the move or if it was genetic, or just not meant to be, but we had a miscarriage two weeks after moving here.  Two years later though, we were blessed with Ewan. Ewan was only 20 months old when Dale left us.  His death was unfathomable and it left Ewan and myself in a city with no family and really no friends.  Yet, I chose to stay.  More than a rational explanation, I stayed on a gut feeling.  A year after Dale's death, our older dog Argyle died.  He wasn't old, he had a tumor that ruptured and had to be put down.  Less than a year later, our other dog Skye became ill as well.  Sadly, she was put down on the same day that my grandmother passed away.

Hopefully both pet lovers and not can understand how a pet becomes not only a part of your family, but they are actually a member.  Dale and I weren't certain that we wanted children and for 8 years prior to having Ewan, those dogs took the place of a human child.  They were our companions that moved from place to place with us and were a part of our adventures, our lives.  So when Skye died in 2013, she marked the end of an era.  Six years after moving to NYC, I was the only one left of the original five.  I had with me the most important addition to our family, but as a baby of only 20 months, he knew very little of the family that we I once had.

With the end of the era six years ago, if I would have stopped and written this story, it would have been one of only sadness and grief, with the only exception being Ewan.  But by letting the cycle run and sharing my tale of NYC at ten years, I have allowed so many more experiences, characters, and stories to be added on.  The main one being of course John, whom I did not meet until November of 2013.

It's funny how, if given the chance, the world balances itself out.  I can see that more clearly now, especially since I have given time and my life a chance to play out.  Although I don't believe that living in NYC helped, it was not the cause of my nightmare.  However, I do have NYC to thank for being a friend during the darkest times.  One thing that I was always sure of in those early days after Dale's death, was that everything that I needed was always right there... a home, a job, a therapist, a babysitter, a day care center, a friend, John, and now a new family.  I am even writing this post now while I should be packing for my  our honeymoon!  (We leave for Hawaii early tomorrow morning!)

So as this post ends and I move on into the 11th year (now as an official New Yorker, according to Carrie Bradshaw) of living in NYC, I cannot end it thinking that what started off as a tragic, sad, and depressing tale is ending on a happy note.  Because, my life has never been sad, tragic, or depressing. My life... is a life.  Life is full of ups and downs.  It is full of wonder and mystery.  It is full of hardships and heartaches.  It is full of all things amazing.  It is a cycle that does not end, until life itself is over.

So whether you look back on your life a week from now, a year, 10 years, or longer... the important thing is to enjoy the small moments in the every day of life because you just don't know how much time you or those around you will have.  10 years goes fast, but it is a long time and so much can happen.  I don't know what the next 10 years hold for me.  But I do know that that there will be sad goodbyes.  I know that there will be the ups and downs (of Ewan's teenage years).  I know there will be worry and confusion.  I know that there will be unbelievable joys and there will be awe.  I know that I don't want to miss a single moment.







Thursday, July 13, 2017

Intro to Essential Oils

Last month, Lemongrass Spa offered an Essential Oil Safety Course with a licensed Aromatherapist.  It couldn't have come at a more perfect time since I had recently begun to make bracelets, many with a diffuser to add an essential oil to.  Admittedly over the past year, I had become more personally intrigued and curious about more natural ways to obtain and or maintain both physical and mental health.  The making of the bracelets and researching healing properties of the stones I select was one result of that.  Taking an 8 week course on Mindful Meditation was another.  Needless to say, I took this Essential Oil Safety Class as well... and I just "graduated!"

I am not a guru at this point by any means.  I am not a mixologist either.  But I do have a fundamental base knowledge for understanding what properties different oils have, how best to use them, and most importantly how to use them safely.

I thought what better way to celebrate my completion of this course than to create a Lemongrass Bag based on an essential oil.  So without further adieu, let me introduce to you The August Lemongrass Bag(s)...


Yes, this month, there are 3 Lemongrass Bags to choose from with 3 different price points.  I'll go through each product and give a description on how to use each one.

Organic Lemon Essential Oil:  With each of the 3 bags, I will include some recipes that you can easily make at home.  Cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.  Lemon is a great EO and carries such a clean, uplifting aroma.  Here are some other important things to know...



I do NOT recommend ingesting essential oils of any kind.  


Wool Dryer Ball:  Soften your clothes and reduce wrinkles with a wood dryer ball.  Better yet, add an EO to give a fresh scent at the same time!  Each bag will contain 1 dryer ball.



Personal Inhaler:  The quickest way to get an essential oil into your system is through inhalation.  Steam is the quickest (and I can share more about that if you want) and a personal inhaler is second.  With a personal inhaler, you can plug one nostril and bring the inhaler right up to the other and take in a deep breath.  You can do this up to 3 times.  (I will share a video on how to use this particular inhaler and how to load it up.)  I just started to use this inhaler and I love it.  Each of the 3 bags comes with a personal inhaler and I have 3 colors to choose from...

Teal, Mink, or Black

Lemon Bath Bomb:  After trying a few different recipes, I have finally found a bath bomb that I love.  Because it features Lemon EO, I thought that coconut oil would be a nice summertime partner.  Epson salts are a great stress and inflammatory reliever and the citric acids adds a fun fizz!  Each bag contains one bath bomb as well.

Here's where it gets a bit different...

Bag A:  This bag contains all of the products above and a $5.00 Lemongrass Spa Gift Card.*  If you were to purchase these on their own, it would cost you more than $30... but you can get it from me for only $20 (shipping included).

Bag B:  This bag contains all of the products above PLUS a 2 oz. bottle of unscented Lemongrass Spa Hand & Body Lotion.  Why unscented?  So you can add your own EO oil to it and create a Lemon Lotion (BTW, we used to sell Lemon Lotion at LGS and it was fantastic!)  Be Careful! When you use Lemon EO topically, you have to be very careful not to "overdose."  For this 2 oz. bottle you can add up to 12 drops.  Once you hit 6, I would take it one at a time until you find the right amount for you.  Again, don't go above 12 drops!

This bag also comes with a $5.00 Lemongrass Spa Gift Card.*  If you were to purchase all of these products on their own, it would cost you more than $35... but you can get it from me for only $25 (shipping included).  :)

Bag C:  This bag contains all of the products from Bag A, PLUS a car diffuser.  Do you have a long commute in the morning?  Are you traveling during the summer?  A car diffuser may become your new best friend!  Lemon EO is uplifting and will help wake you up.  (Hint: If you have kids and want to calm them in the car, you may want to invest in Lavender EO.)


This bag also comes with a $5.00 Lemongrass Spa Gift Card.*  If you were to purchase all of these products on their own, it would cost you more than $40... but you can get it from me for only $30 (shipping included).




If you are not interested in any of these bags, but I have plucked some interest in the Lemon Essential Oil, it is on sale now for only $9.00 a bottle.


You can pair that with the car diffuser for only $18.


Lemongrass Spa does carry more than just Lemon EO, and you can check them all out by clicking on the link below.

http://www.ourlemongrassspa.com/AMYMARIE/content/Product_Catalog.aspx#lemongrass2017/page/34-35


**The Gift Cards do have an expiration date, September 30, 2017.


Resources:  Lea Harris, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist:  http://www.usingeossafely.com/

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tridacna

These tridacna bracelets are now some of my favorites!  The tridacna is etched beautifully and the contrast between the white and the other stones is classic and clean.  (Click onto the images for a clearer view.)





Add a couple of drops of an essential oil to the lave stone and take the scent with you all day!



Tridacna is a large saltwater clam, a giant actually.  Despite having a brightly colored mantle, tridacna is the "most white substance in the world."
http://www.zjoyfashions.com/news/white-tridacna-calm-shell-meaning-and-healing-properties-8612.html  

Tridacna:  Wearing tridacna can help enhance your magnetic field.  It can help to relieve annoyances, increase wisdom, and protect you from evil spirits (Buddhist belief).

Purple Titanium:  Titanium Quart is aka “The Stone of Universal Light."  Titanium (Flame) Aura allows for one to go deep into meditation to receive spiritual attunement. Overall this crystal is one that brings insight, compassion, energy, excitement and joy into life’s experiences.  
https://mycrystalpedia.wordpress.com/t/titanium-flame-aura-quartz/

Onyx:  Onyx is believed to help with the challenges in life.  It helps to get rid of unwanted energies that can drain you.  It's a root chakra.  It's the zodiac birthstone for Leos.  
http://meanings.crystalsandjewelry.com/onyx

Pink Amethyst:  It offers all of the qualities of amethyst (peace, warmth, and harmony) but also adds in love and tolerance.  Amethyst is a crown chakra.  It's a birthstone for February and a zodiac birthstone for Pisces.  
https://exemplore.com/healing/Pink-Amethyst-Meaning

Lava Stones:  Lava is known for grounding and calming emotions.  It comes from the core of the earth and is a Root Chakra.  Because of its unique and porous texture, it can be used as a natural diffuser.  Essential oils can easily be absorbed by the lava stones, allowing you to carry its scent with you all day.  


Fashion?
Meaning?
Charity?

Those are my 3 birds... which one are you?






Other Resources:  
https://www.gemrockauctions.com/learn/additional-gemstone-information/a-list-of-gemstone-birthstones-and-astrology