Do You Have Any Collections?

Do you have any collections?

Yes! Two! Plants and Art.

This is a tough question for Minimalist me to answer. I don’t believe in collecting stuff. That’s how I define collecting is stuff. I am not a sentimentalist for the most part. That being said, what I do personally own means the world to me.

The first collection I want to talk about is my plant collection, which is also one of my businesses. http://www.therareplanthaus.com I stated collecting plants during the 2019 COVID 19 pandemic. Plants helped me rebuild my life. They still do to this day. Sometimes I get frustrated with this business because of some negative memories I have that are associated with starting the business and building it entirely on my own from scratch with no help. Talk about feeling like I was walking in the dark. Plants and my love for them got me through. Specifically, I’d have to say it’s my love for orchids. My personal collection to this day contains mostly orchids. There are a few other Aroids in my collection, but orchids are one of my passions. They are notoriously hard to grow with a bad reputation of being difficult to care for, and nothing could be further from the truth. They grow slowly and take time and patience. With the right care, they will flourish given time.

The other collection I have is my own art collection. When I say my own art, I mean art I’ve produced and hung on my walls in my house. I have decorated my own house with my own art collection. Is every piece brilliant? Nope. But I love having pieces hanging pieces and visual memories of my life hanging on my walls from so many different moments in time.

The two collections I do have mean so much to me because they represent vision and growth in my life. They also represent decoration. In some moments the two intertwine. A lot of my art has plants in it, many of which are inspired from plants and orchid flowers that I grow. What an amazing opportunity to view such beauty every day!

What do you collect, and more importantly what does it mean to you? What is your WHY behind what you collect? Tell me the story behind it. Email me at sarathlete@hotmail.com and share your story with me. I’d love to hear from you!

Sarathlete

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What Is the Legacy You Want to Leave Behind?

What is the legacy you want to leave behind?

I saw a new, ground-breaking hip hop opera in February 2023 put on by Lyric Opera at the Harris Theater in Chicago called The Factotum. This opera is a modern remaking of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. (Honestly, I’m very grateful I saw this modern version because it saved me from having to sit through The Barber of Seville.)

Here is a synopsis of The Factotum, and a discussion of the basis of the remainder of my blog post. Watch this before reading on. The discussion of the idea of legacy is covered in this video. Also, there is some amazing singing and collaborating that goes on in this clip.

What’s the legacy I want to leave behind? I know for sure, as always, what my legacy will not be, and that is children. I’ve always known this deep down at my core. I do not want children. Children are probably the most popular way to leave a legacy to anyone.

My legacy will live on as as a leader/coach/mentor-inspiration/teacher to others. I am all of these things. This feels like such an egotistical thing to say. I’ve had to come to accept this about myself recently: that I am an inspiration to others.

The legacy I will leave behind is the knowledge and wisdom I impart on other people. People follow me. I lead them. On the dance floor and in life. It’s annoying. Yet, it’s true. Denying this fact about myself denies who I am as a person. On the road to self-acceptance and self-actualization you have to know who you are and what you stand for. I’m here at this point my journey in life.

The legacy I want to leave behind is one of a tire leader who always eats last because I care. I care about people. I will go to the mat for them if I believe in them enough. This is the person I am. I also have vision and can recognize promise and talent in people that they may not be able to see in themselves at the time or in the moment. I can recognize both the good guys/girls and the bad ones.

I want to leave a legacy of fellow leaders behind who can take what they learned from me and pass down the knowledge they learned from me and other people who inspire them as they move forward in their lives whether they are on their fluid intelligence curve or crystallized intelligence curve (Dr. Arthur Brooks, From Strength to Strength).

What is the legacy you want to leave behind?

Sarathlete

How Do You Feel About Cold Weather?

How do you feel about cold weather?

I’m hot and cold about cold weather to be honest!

I get sick of being cold all of the time when it’s cold outside.

I love snow, as long as I’m not driving in it!

I love the coziness that cold weather brings.

I hate when it’s supposed to be warm out, and it’s still cold out!

I live near Chicago, so maybe I should define what cold weather means to me. Everyone is different based on where they live. To me, “cold weather” is anything 40 degrees and below.

As my body changes composition changes and I get leaner and meaner, I do find that I’m colder more often than ever before. I always carry a sweatshirt with me in case I get cold indoors!

Bottom line, I don’t like to be cold, but I don’t like to be too warm either. I just like it how I like it! I’m the bear the likes it just right!

Cold weather and being cold are the same thing even they may not be related at all!

It’s almost summer, and I’m grateful the cold weather is leaving us. We still get cold days, and that frustrates me. I love being outdoors and there is something about being inside that is depressing to me and it affects my mood. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Cold weather brings with it a time for reflection and a chance to go inside or indoors and reflect. We also lose time as well in my area with Daylight Savings Time, so that affects the amount of light we get along with being inside, so it’s a double-edged sword. Every winter I get through going inside, and it makes me that much more grateful when Spring and Summer are here.

Rather than dwelling on what we cannot control, focus on being grateful for what you have in the moment. At this moment in my area, we are heading into Summer! Summer endurance sports! Ice cream! Dancing outside in the park! Going to the beach! Fresh air and sunshine! Free outdoor concerts and theatre experiences. Yes, girl! Love it!

I love where I live and truly enjoy all 4 seasons!

Sarathlete

December 2022 Goals

In yesterday’s post, I reflected on what happened in November 2022 and lessons I learned. I also shared the status of the goals I’d set.

Keeping in mind the holiday, I’m not looking to focus on breadth. I’m going for depth instead. So, goals look light, but one of the goals, the YearCompass is where I will be putting most of my energy and where I’ll be going deep.

Here are my goals:

  1. Continue with 5k trail race plan, weight lifting and hiking.
  2. Purchase Vivobarefoot trail running shoes.
  3. Work on the YearCompass so it’s completed before New Year’s Eve.
  4. Film, edit and post one YouTube video this month.
  5. Enjoy the holiday and make it as close to family-drama-free (i.e. in-laws and family of origin) as I possibly can.
  6. Purchase a keyboard and keep on learning piano – a new side interest.

Thoughts and Hopes for December 2022 Goals:

Last month was very overloaded and had things on the list that I was trying to force myself to do that I didn’t really want to do but felt like I had to do. And, of course, I didn’t do what I didn’t want to do.

December 2022 is very Minessententional.

Minimalist, Essential and Intentional=Minessententional:

  • Fewer and more focused goals that go deep on the things that are essential and intentional to me.
  • Focused the things that are most important to me right now which are also the essential things.
  • Moving the dial on fitness and my business/brand with 1 YouTube video, 
  • Going deep on the YearCompass for next year’s goals to say goodbye and reflect on 2022 and plan for what I’d like to accomplish in 2023.
  • Adding in practice and a way to practice for a new side interest that I’m working on (piano). 
  • Need trail shoes for the trail race  I’m running in January and beyond. 
  • Being active and fit during the holiday and beyond. 
  • Maintaining my mental health so that I stay as close to a drama-free Christmas and New Years as I possibly can. For me, that means staying away from triggering family members like in-laws and family of origin.

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Need help with planning and goal setting for December 2022 or for 2023? Email me at sarathlete@hotmail.com and let’s have a conversation about goal setting and planning. I’d love to hear from you and help you out in any way I can.

Sarathlete

Why You Should Nurture Other Interests While You’re Indulging Your Main Passion

For years, I had one passion: dance. 

What activities did I nurture on the side when I wasn’t dancing? 

Not much to be honest. Dance was everything to me.

That became a problem when I left the dance world, and all I had left was my day job.

One of the reasons I advocate for nurturing interests on the side is because I remember what it was like to have dance be my world, and when I chose to leave that world due to burnout, I felt oh-so-very lost.

So, what was next for me?

This blog.

I kept on moving. I started running. I did a 5k, half and full marathon one year. The next year I got into triathlons. The year after that was cycling. And the year after that was a year of hot yoga. 

The year after that, I lost touch with movement for many years. I had a very dark period where depression and emotional eating ruled my life. I stopped moving for a while. Eventually I went back to the gym and got into weight lifting and boxing. Then came COVID and a back injury. Then came ACA/12 step and recovery.

Within this time, I got very into personal development in searching for a solution to make myself feel better and trying to figure out why I was so depressed and felt so awful.

During COVID came an interest in orchids and growing other tropical houseplants. I enjoyed this so much I started my own business in May of 2021 called The Rare Plant Haus.

All throughout this time period I tried art classes of different sorts. I kept on moving even when I felt low and didn’t feel like moving my body.

Nurture side interests that you’re curious about while you perform your main passion because when you’re at the top of your craft, burnout your main passion is inevitable. 

It’s not just me saying burnout is inevitable. It’s human nature. It’s the 10 year/10,000 hour rule. At some point in your life, you’re going to want to change course and do something different.

If you wait until burnout occurs, you decide to leave your passion, and you haven’t nurtured anything else on the side, then you’re going to be a beginner and brand new at everything. Being a beginner at everything isn’t a bad thing, but you may not want to be like me and be the beginner at everything at the same time. Learning a LOT of new things at the same time is hard for anyone. It leads to the possibility of feeling like you’re not very good at anything. It’s not a fun way to feel.

If you nurture side interests you have and explore new things that aren’t front and center with your main passion, then you can enjoy being a beginner. You get to learn new things and find out what you like and don’t like about said interest and if you even want to pursue it or not. 

This advice is applicable to anyone, not just athletes. If you don’t nurture any side hobbies, then what happens when you don’t want to work in your field anymore? What other skills do you have to move into a new field? I would say none if you don’t spend time developing your other interests.

All of the things I thought I was bad at simply was because I was a beginner are now some of my main focuses: blogging and writing regularly as part of my business, wanting to live an active life again that does NOT involve dance, when I got back into fitness and movement I wanted to run, bike and swim. I’m not a beginner at any of these things anymore. I may not be great at them yet, but I know I enjoy them and can make a living doing them. These are all things I’m pursuing right now or will be very soon in the future.

What I need to ask myself now is: what’s next? The side things I did from 2011 to 2022 to build new interests are now my main focus. 

What new things am I going to try out and be a total beginner at so that I’ll have new interests when these passions I have now inevitably fade?

I’m aware that burnout will occur for me. I burnt out after 10 years of teaching dance. I burnt out after 12 years in the real estate/title examiner world. Based on my history, with work and athletics, I am asking myself right now, what would I like to do in the future so that I don’t (hopefully) repeat history and burn out with no clue as to what comes next. I don’t want to have to spend a decade developing new main passions because I lose interest in present day interests. 

If I take the time to nurture a new hobby or two now, then I reduce the chances of feeling lost and with a huge time void with nothing to fill said time. 

Burnout happens. You might fall out of love with the thing you enjoy the most. This doesn’t just happen to athletes. Many people start out in life with 9-5 job they enjoy and by the time they hit their 40s or 50s, they’re looking for what is next. Or worse…they get stuck. They stay because they don’t know what else to do.

What’s next for you? Need help figuring it out? Email me at sarathlete@hotmail.com.  Let’s talk it out.

Sarathlete

Picking the Lesser Of Two Evils: Which Would I Rather Do? Fun Interview and Getting-To-Know Me A Little Better

I’ve had this idea bubbling in my head as like a trivia post. It’s a self-interview and gives you a chance to get to know me a little bit better. So I’m going to ask myself a series of questions where I select the lesser of two evils and see which one I pick. 

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Sara, which would you rather do:

  1. Dance on pointe (ballet) or run a marathon?

Run a marathon.

  1. Have Christmas dinner with your parents or your in-laws?

Have Christmas dinner with my parents. 

  1. Go shopping at a crowded mall or or watch a comedy-style opera?

Watch a comedy-style opera

  1. Take ballroom dance lessons from a complete beginner or socialize at a party where I know no one?

Take ballroom dance lessons from a complete beginner.

  1. Attend faith night at the recovery center once a week or drive in Chicago (or any large city) traffic at rush hour every day for a month?

Drive in Chicago traffic at rush hour every day for a month.

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I’ve given myself a selection of two things I don’t enjoy, and I’ve selected the one I can tolerate, put up with, or would rather do over the other. Both options in each questions difficult for me for different reasons, but I have a preference for one or the other if I was presented the choice because I know which one is more tolerable than the other.

Sometimes that’s what we get in life. We can’t do exactly what we want and we have to compromise and pick the lesser of two evils. When life isn’t going your way and you have to make a choice, sometimes you have to pick what you think you can tolerate when neither choice is optimal or enjoyable. You choose based on your preferences and what you can stand.

I’d rather run a marathon than dance on pointe, not because either was easy for me, but running a marathon was easier and far less painful than dancing on pointe ever was.

I’d rather sit through Christmas dinner with my parents because I know that it’ll be a quiet experience vs. my in-laws who are very loud, gossipy, and will pick at me. My parents are quiet and passive aggressive and I can tolerate them over my in-laws any day.

I’d rather sit through a comedy-style opera than go shopping at a crowded mall because I can avoid the crowds that way. Comedy-style operas are my least favorite, but I’d sit through one any day over having to go to a crowded mall.

I’d rather take ballroom dance lessons from someone who knows basically nothing (yes, this is a real thing that happens in studios where the teacher is often one step ahead of their students) than have to socialize at a party with anyone I don’t know. 

I’d rather drive in rush hour Chicago traffic than attend faith night at the recovery center once a week because I don’t want to have god and faith shoved down my throat.

Sarathlete

Gratitude and Depression

In January 2019, I was laid off from my day job. My manager said the company’s intention was to rehire me if their workload picked up again. I had no return-to-work date. Being rehired was not a guarantee. I felt very low.

(Disclosure: While this post contains information about my experience with mental illness, this post is not intended to be medical advice. I am not a licensed, certified or trained medical professional. If you suffer from mental illness, I encourage you to seek help from licensed, certified medical professional.)

In 2004, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder by my doctor. Job losses, for me, trigger depressive episodes. During a depressive episode, negative thoughts arise which impact my behavior. When I’m feeling stable, activities such as getting out of bed and leaving the house every day are easy. Depressive episodes make those activities into hurdles difficult for me to leap over.

But no matter how I’m feeling, I enjoy listening to podcasts. Podcasts encourage my creativity and lift my spirits. After the layoff, I listened to a podcast host speak about the benefits of having a daily gratitude practice and how having a gratitude buddy helps with accountability to the practice. The podcast host was offering to match listeners with an email gratitude buddy with the intention of helping the audience cultivate their own daily gratitude practice. The rules—every day, email your gratitude buddy three things you are grateful for, and the buddy would reciprocate.

My inner voice said, “Sara, you need a gratitude buddy.” I listened to my inner voice.

Now I find that practicing gratitude every night allows me to reflect on the good parts of my day. I cannot be negative with gratitude, so I have to find the positive within the negative.

During low points, like being unemployed, my gratitude lists looked like this:

  • Grateful I got out of bed today.
  • Grateful I left the house today.
  • Grateful I went to the library to read some magazines.

These small acts feel like huge triumphs. I was jumping over previously difficult hurdles.

In March 2019, I received a re-hire offer from my then former employer. I accepted the offer. When I returned to work, my confidence rose and my negative thoughts subsided. My gratitude lists developed and now look more like this:

  • Grateful I got a good workout in at the gym.
  • Grateful I went to the opera with my mom.
  • Grateful I stayed in bed today for a chance to recharge and relax.
  • Grateful for my job.
  • Grateful for my gratitude buddy emailing me every day.

I learned how to shift my perspective from negative thoughts to positive ones while I was going through a bad situation. I continued practicing gratitude during the good times, and that practice developed a daily habit. That daily habit is a new skill I can add to my arsenal to continue living with my depression. Stressful situations have arisen since the layoff, and I keep going with my gratitude practice. I keep showing up and finding the good within the bad.

I take medication for my depression in addition to my gratitude practice. I’ve taken medication much longer than I’ve been practicing gratitude. Medication and gratitude, in my opinion, are not cures for depression. Medication helps my moods stay stable. Gratitude helps me deal with thoughts. My gratitude practice helps me find light when I feel like I’m in darkness and the medication helps me stay in that positive zone. Medication and gratitude are a good combination for me.

If you are reading this, I’d like you to know I’m grateful for you, dear reader! Thank you for reading my blog posts.

You can always connect with me, ask me questions, or tell me about you at sarathlete@hotmail.com. I’d love to connect with you!

Sarathlete

Finding Bliss

I found bliss today.

See…

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Bliss was waiting for me at the Cherry Avenue intersection.

There was beauty every direction I looked today. Recognizing beauty on the same street was as simple as looking left and right and up and down.

So, at the intersection of Bliss and Cherry I saw this massive view of Chicago on one side of me…

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And I saw this bird’s eye view on the other side…

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Bliss led me to beauty. I had to work (not so) hard to find the beauty.

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. And I can say that beyond a shadow of a doubt because I was there!

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Keep your eyes open people! Beauty could be staring you right in the face. And you may not have to look for beauty on Bliss Street! Beauty might be on Cherry Avenue instead!

Namaste,

Sarathlete

Art Kitchen

I’ve always had a fascination with making food smile since I was a little girl. I would take vegetables, fruit, egg yolks or pretty much any food I could get my hands on and find a way to make two eyes, a nose and a smile out of the materials available. I started doing this as a surprise for my mom. Whatever materials she was using to make us a meal were the materials I would use for my kitchen art creations. When my mother wasn’t looking I would assemble the food she was using into a smiling face, leave the room and wait.

I would wait to hear my mom laugh. She would discover my creation and laugh and say, “Oh Sara.” She may have sounded annoyed on the surface, but deep down I know she loved it!

Because I kept creating kitchen art for my mom to make her laugh we decided that this smiling creation needed a name. We decided on Art Kitchen. First name: Art. Last name: Kitchen.

I kept creating various versions of Art Kitchen into adulthood. Thankfully my husband Pete, much like my mother, finds Art Kitchen humorous. The surprise is the kicker. Assembling the ingredients and leaving the room and waiting to hear the person laugh is so satisfying to me. Knowing that I’ve made someone smile and laugh makes me feel good inside!

Here are two pictures of Art Kitchen that I’ve made for my husband over the 10 years we have been together:

Art Kitchen appears as smiling pasta:

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Art Kitchen appears as a smiling peanut butter and jelly sandwich base with carrots topping the bread for the eyes and above the eyes as eyebrows and a bed of potato chips for the smile.

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In my 33 years on this planet I’ve never seen food smile on its own. Nature is a curious thing. Pete cut open a pineapple one day. He called me into the kitchen. The pineapple had its own smiling face! So I decided to dress up nature’s version of Art Kitchen with a hat and body. I had to add my own flourish to nature’s version of Art Kitchen seen below.

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I hope my kitchen art creations made you smile and laugh!

Namaste,

Sarathlete

The Gift of Movement

A wiggle. A waddle. A bob and weave. A hand stand. A walk in the park. A bike ride. A foxtrot. A cartwheel. It doesn’t matter how or where or when but we were made to move.

Dancing and yoga and walking in the city and biking down paths and country roads are the forms of movement I’m most into right now.

I am sarathlete! I’m on the move!

I’m so grateful for the ability to be able to move. I was inspired to write this post today by my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law can barely move. I had lunch with Pete’s side of the family today. My mother-in-law is in her early seventies. She’s so overweight she couldn’t walk from the booth to the front door of the restaurant today without being out of breath and having to sit down before she walked out to the car. Her back hurt. She was out of breath. Want to know why? Because she barely moves. She will tell you that she cannot move. She sits in a chair all day and chooses not to move. Instead of trying to to things for herself my mother-in-law chooses to order her husband around all day having him do simple tasks like getting her food or whatever.

I don’t feel sorry for my mother-in-law. I’m not taking pity or making a judgment of her. This is my observation of her.

Watching my mother-in-law today made me so grateful for the gift of movement. I don’t envy her choice not to move at all. I’m also grateful, as a friend once said, that I still have all of my original factory parts! My mother-in-law was such an inspiration to move that I came home and went on a fast 20 mile bike ride. I pushed myself harder on that ride than I ever have when I’ve ridden in the past. Why? Because I could.

I can move. You can move. The choice to move is up to the individual.

For me movement gives me freedom, provides a means of transportation, gives me a form of emotional and physical expression. Movement fulfills me and helps me sustain my life. Movement makes me joyous.

I hope you choose to move because movement makes like so beautiful and interesting, in my opinion! I love it!

If you choose to move then honor yourself and your movement by moving right now. Get up and do a happy dance. Do tree pose. Go jump in a lake. Make a joyful noise. Why? Because you can. You made your choice. Relish in that fact.

Life is a gift. Live it. Move it. Shake it up a bit! Get out of breath once in a while! We can’t choose to move when we die. So move now and celebrate the wonderfully fabulous gift of life!

Namaste!

Sarathlete

Me after a glorious 4 mile walk in Chicago! So happy!

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