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.
Work on the YearCompass so it’s completed before New Year’s Eve.
Film, edit and post one YouTube video this month.
Enjoy the holiday and make it as close to family-drama-free (i.e. in-laws and family of origin) as I possibly can.
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.
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.
Need help with planning and goal setting for December 2022 or for 2023? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Here are my November goals and the status of them is bolded in parentheses:
Find a trail 5k locally to run and sign up for the race. (Achieved)
Buy trail running shoes. (Need to do. I’ve been running mostly indoors. Decided to buy Vivobarefoots. Need to place the order.)
Find a free trail running plan for a 5k trail race. (Achieved)
Integrate the goal race and training plan into my current weight training plan so I can do both at once. (Completed and still tweaking my schedule)
Clean out my closet in my room. (In process and mostly complete)
Have a truly happy Thanksgiving and figure out what that really means to me. (Achieved)
Art journal everyday with watercolor journal or a digital art app like Procreate. Post the art online somewhere, like Facebook, blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, anywhere and be consistent with posting everyday. (Incomplete, went back to drawing Zentangle-like drawing instead).
Write a blog post 4 times a week. (Achieved and went beyond my expectations)
Meditate for one minute or do a meditate activity where I breathe deeply for one minute the first day and add a minute to each day so I meditate for thirty minutes at the end of the month. Compounding breaths should equal a calmer me by December 1st! (Didn’t complete. Only meditated once.)
Practice Italian every day on DuoLingo. (Never tried on DuoLingo)
Monetize my life and see how it goes. (In process and working on it daily.)
Film and post 4 YouTube videos. (I filmed one video, but I never edited or posted it).
Do the Authority Accelerator course and finish the first step of the course: Hero’s Journey and the Niche Down to Blow Up spreadsheet. Speak to 20 ideal clients to see what they have to say, OR jump into building the course since I am around my ideal client and I already am my ideal client and see how it goes. (Never touched this)
Purchase Apple Watch Ultra and live only on the Apple Watch for 30 days. (Complete)
Set goals with real numbers for The Rare Plant Haus. (Never touched this)
Bake and sell baked goods on Facebook in the Chesterton Happenings Facebook page. (I baked for my husband and for my enjoyment, but I didn’t sell anything. With dogs, I feel that selling food online isn’t the greatest decision…dog hair and food don’t mix well).
Sell stuff on Facebook Marketplace: plants, old stuff I want to get rid of as I declutter and try to make money out of my old junk I no longer want and money out of plants I can’t sell in my store because they are too big to ship or I just don’t want to carry that plant in my future lineups anymore. (There is resistance here, and I didn’t do it. I want to, but the thought of posting on social media and having to talk to people stands in my way every time).
Get rid of the stuff that is hard to get rid of by playing the Minimalism game. (Didn’t do the Minimalism game, but I have been decluttering bit by bit every week).
Clean out all of the hiding places stuff builds up in the house like in the closets, pantry, basement, drawers and dressers and do it daily, i.e. a little every day. (Working on it weekly, not daily).
Simplify the plant room and what I sell and pitch or sell off the rest on Facebook marketplace or somewhere, doesn’t matter where. (LOL I avoided the plant room because I have so much stock that it’s overwhelming and I didn’t want to deal with it).
Eliminate personal plant collection and sell those plants off that I no longer want to keep in my personal plant collection. Sell it off as part of the store and keep only the plants that hold meaning to me. (Need to do. I barely touched my plants this month)
Buy LECA for the plant shop to propagate with going forwards. (Need to do. Didn’t feel like dealing with the plant business this month).
Figure out how to fertilize with roots growing in LECA. (Need to do. Didn’t feel like dealing with the plant business this month).
Sell five plants on www.therareplanthaus.com and get off of Etsy and slowly transition back to my Shopify store that is currently on pause. Stop giving money to Etsy and put it back in my plant shop’s pockets. (Didn’t do this at all).
Align multiple businesses under one large brand with one greater message. (In process. Working on this as I go).
Do one cleaning activity every day so I don’t have to do big pushes anymore in the house. Clean as I go so the house is always clean. (I worked on this, but I haven’t been able to achieve doing cleaning daily. I still did my big pushes).
Read a few pages of a book every day or a chapter of a book once a day so that I get into the habit of reading. (I read a few pages one day, and never read again).
Be outside everyday somehow, even if it’s just opening the window. (I was outside more often hiking, but I didn’t make it out every day.)
Leave the house everyday. (I did this most days, but I know I didn’t do achieve this every day.)
Go the library and sit and read the newspaper and magazines at least once this month. This will help me with getting out of the house everyday. (Achieved)
Go on some artists dates, once a week, to start building new interests and hobbies that I can start to nurture over the next decade. (Never did this once.)
No mindless Facebook scrolling. If I find myself scrolling, then stop scrolling and switch to something else. (Still mindlessly scrolling every day. Didn’t achieve this one).
Check emails, orders and messages only once a day. (I checked emails more than this. I want to work on this one.)
Live life on my watch as much as possible and stop carrying my phone around unless absolutely necessary. (Didn’t do this one very often.)
Wear my contacts 15 days out of 30 days this month. Wear glasses less often. (I wore my contacts twice this month.)
Shower less often to help build up body microbiome. (This didn’t even come close to happening.)
Stop online scrolling mindlessly on costco.com(I check less often, but I still enjoy scrolling mindlessly on Costco.com to see what’s new in their site. Guilty pleasure, I guess.)
Only go to recovery center activities that I want to attend, and stop shaming myself and feeling guilty for not wanting to attend all of the activities they offer. (Achieved!)
Do one cycling workout a week, indoors or outdoors, to keep my butt in shape so I don’t lose the progress I’ve made. Keep my butt used to the saddle so I’m ready for spring riding in 2023! (Want to do, but didn’t achieve this month).
Thoughts on November goals:
I had a pretty ambitious month planned for November. Perhaps a little too ambitious.
What I found was that I did the things I really wanted to do: finding a trail race and signing up for it, getting Apple Watch Ultra, experimenting with a new journaling style, figuring out how to fit in the walk/run schedule with my weight lifting schedule, working on aligning my businesses.
I also found that things I didn’t touch were things I said/thought I wanted to do because I feel like I should want to or feel like I have to but they didn’t happen because I’ve been experience resistance with them for a while now. I feel like I should want to deal with the plants I have and the stock that’s hanging over my head, but I really have no desire to do it because I don’t want to do it anymore. I have a LOT of stock that I want to sell off and get rid of. I don’t want to sell plants anymore. I still enjoy plants, but I don’t really enjoy selling them and running a business around them, but I feel like I should enjoy it because I’ve invested money into this business that no longer serves me. Those were mostly things related to my plant shop, www.therareplanthaus.com and the Etsy store https://www.etsy.com/shop/therareplanthaus
I’m still working on my businesses. I posted to sarathlete.com nearly every day this month. That’s progress! I’m working through aligning my businesses through writing and figuring out what I want to say and focus on. What I found was that I like writing and I want to get back to filming for YouTube. I feel stuck between my life coaching site, Sara Dalton Coaching, and my sarathlete.com blog. There’s a lot of crossover I see there so I’m thinking of how I can make them into one unified brand. The same thing is true with the plant business, The Rare Plant Haus. I’d like to figure out how I can make plants a part of my brand but not have to sell and ship plants. Plants helped reconnect me to the land of the living in 2020 and I want to make them part of my brand message because of this, but I don’t want to sell and ship them anymore. Anyone want to buy an online plant business?
Most of the items are works in progress, and I’m down with that.
Reviewing my goals shows me I have a lot of work to do in the all-or-nothing-thinking/striving department. Quite a few of my goals were “do X thing every day”. As a striver, I feel shame for not completing these items every day. That shows me I still have more work to do in recovery. I have a hard time admitting that things are a work in progress or that I avoided goals altogether because there is resistance there. In my eyes, I failed if only did goal X one time or even that I tried it and it didn’t happen. That’s a great lesson for me though. Still have more work to do.
I could be setting myself up for failure with big goals like do X everyday. Maybe just trying putting it out there and doing it one time that month, or once a week would be more feasible. Building progress slowly over time and not forcing myself to do something brand new every day with so many goals at one time.
Fitness goals have been going well. I’ve been run/walking but not so much outdoors. I’ve been training on the treadmill for now and then doing weights afterwards. I’m proud of myself for getting my runs in at all. It’s been awesome! I need to buy trail shoes. I’ve decided on Vivos to start with. I run in trainers with zero padding and this helps me stay on the balls of my feet (that and years of dancing training). I find with the extra padding in a traditional running shoe that I heel strike way too much. I’m doing a very beginner run/walk program for my 5k goal race, so I should be able to build foot strength over time between Vivos and the NoBull trainer’s I run in on the treadmill and also lift weights in as well.
Mindless scrolling is still around, but there’s less of it. I’ve found the busier I keep myself, the less time there is for scrolling mindlessly. The habit of scrolling is dissociation for me. The Facebook and costco.com mindless scrolling started this summer when I was going to ACA virtual meetings. I’d be waiting to share, and I’d be listening to fellow ACA’s share when it was their turn. I found that watching the Zoom screen was boring, so I’d open an internet browser tab and scroll through the Facebook feed for fun things to do in my town or just check out costco.com to see what was new. I don’t buy anything, but scrolling gave me something to do while I listened (the story of my life!). Currently, I’m not attending ACA meetings, but I found that the mindless scrolling habit stuck around. I want to eliminate it, but part of me enjoys having something mindless I can do to check out for a bit.
Lesson Learned to Apply to December Goals:
I’m going to keep things simpler and more focused in December. I set too many expectations for myself, and then I hated myself for falling short. Classic Striver. Grrrrr. (Learn more about what a striver is here in the interview with Dr. Arthur Brooks on Rich Roll’s podcast on YouTube:
December goals will be posted tomorrow. Stay tuned!
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.
Sara, which would you rather do:
Dance on pointe (ballet) or run a marathon?
Run a marathon.
Have Christmas dinner with your parents or your in-laws?
Have Christmas dinner with my parents.
Go shopping at a crowded mall or or watch a comedy-style opera?
Watch a comedy-style opera
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.
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.
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.
I would’ve paid someone an obscene amount of money to fix things for me. Even better, I would’ve paid anyone to tell me what was wrong with my life as to why I felt so miserable in my life that I wanted to die because I could only see a future with my life the way it was and no improvement. I couldn’t see a way out of my life and that made me want to NOT keep going. Suicide ideation you could call it. What got to be so bad that I wanted to be out of my life? This was my breaking point.
What happened to me was the first key. In late Fall of 2019 and early Winter of 2020, right before lockdown, I worked my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Emma Lively. I did the retirement version of the program which was perfect for my old soul. With the wisdom and guidance of the authors of this program, I wrote my memoir. Over the span of 12 weeks, I examined my life 3 years, or so, at a time. I was 39 years old when I did this, so the math worked out well. The goal for senior citizens is to do about 10 years a week, but I wanted to do the program so I had to make the math work for me.
I spent hours writing my memoir. In writing my memoir, I got a chance to examine my past from my perspective. Later on, I would identify this memoir as figuring out What Happened To Me (check out the book for Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah).
In writing my memoir, I started to examine the years of my life. I was able to see that I’d been truly happy for four years of my life in college. I started to see what had happened with my parents and my paternal grandmother. I started to see and write down what was going on with my marriage. I started to see what happened with my in-laws. For the first time ever, I was able to write down and identify what happened and why I felt the way I did. I often would say to myself, “No wonder you feel this way, Sara. No wonder you want to die. You’ve had 4 years of happiness out of 39 years of our life.
The first step to healing was writing down my story and admitting what had happened to me. The next step was admitting that I didn’t like what had happened to me, which was me admitting how I felt about what had happened to me in my past. This is what came for the next two years.
What happened between 2020 and 2022 was the Coronavirus and the pandemic. It was a chance to take a pause in all of the distractions and really focus on myself and what was coming up for me. I wanted to push down the feelings of grief over what had happened to me. No one really wants to admit that they were sexually assaulted many times over the years, that their parents projected that they didn’t want them around and made them feel like an inconvenience, or admit to their own mistakes that they’d made as a result of what was going on. For me, an example of that was seeing that I worked out a lot my anxiety at the gym and spent a lot of time working out to numb the pain of the past.
In 2021, I left my corporate job because I couldn’t take being treated like a piece of underpaid garbage anymore. This was a huge step for me on the road to entering 12 step and recovery.
How I felt about what happened to me started to catch up with me. I couldn’t keep pushing down the feelings anymore. I started feeling worse and worse after I left my job because, ironically, I felt amazing without being treated like garbage at a job that paid me barely anything, undervalued me and didn’t appreciate me. I started to see how I was treated at my corporate job and compared it to my life where I also felt the same way. Turns out, for me, my job was reflecting a mirror back to me of other areas of my life where I’d been treated similarly: my marriage, my family of origin and my in-laws. Just like I wasn’t happy at work, I could also see the dysfunction that was these other relationships in my life.
I reached a breaking point with my corporate job and I couldn’t handle the stress, low pay and being undervalued anymore. The criticism, black and white thinking, perfectionism, people pleasing, and control was too much. By leaving my job and seeing how much better I felt without it in my life, light started to show on other areas of my life and how similar they were to the job I’d had. Like, how could I let anyone treat me this way? The way I felt about my job was the same way I felt about my marriage, my in-laws, my parents and my paternal grandmother.
Noticing that the only period of time I was really happy was when none of these relationships was present in my life, and that was 4 years in college. It was the time that I identified in my memoir that was the last time I was happy. That time was me on my own and being happy and comfortable, for the first time, being me.
When I did my memoir, I uncovered how awkward I felt in childhood around my parents. This unease was present in grade school and high school in that I didn’t fit in. This happened when I moved back home after college, started dating my now husband and moved in with my now in-laws. I didn’t fit in. But college? I was regulated, satisfied and happy. I fit in. There was no dysfunction present.
In recognizing where I was happy, I was able to see the moments where I wasn’t happy in my memoir. Then I was able to see why I wasn’t happy and then how I felt about that.
I entered ACA/12 step and recovery after a period of time where I was working very hard for little financial gain and no real support at home.
I had to put myself first and tell myself that I mattered. I had to pull back from the work I was doing. Overworking and overworking out two of my addictions. I numb my pain and anxiety with exercise to the extreme. I LOVE to workout. It’s where I get high. It could be any kind of movement like dance, lifting weights, running.
And in 2021, I injured my back from working out too much. Or, so I thought at the time.
My truth is that the back injury was a huge reflection for me being miserable in my life and needing to change in order to feel better.
It was a time to say no. I injured my back while I was still working full-time at my corporate job. I was miserable. I tried to take out my anxieties with lifting super heavy weights at the gym. I believe between the stress of working out, the misery and depression I was in from my marriage and work, the stress I felt from the pandemic, and on and on, my body decided to send me a message, “Time to stop girl. Here’s a huge dose of pain in the form of shooting pain up your right leg until you fix this.”
A huge sign from my body: STOP SARA. STOP IT.
So, the signs were there, but I didn’t stop and pull back until this back injury and pain was so present in my life that I couldn’t ignore things anymore.
A sign from the universe? Maybe. A sign from my body? YES!
I’m grateful for what this injury has taught me. My body said, “I’m not happy anymore, and you can’t take your anxiety out on me without a huge dose of pain.”
So, I had to stop and get better. It wasn’t easy.
That physical pain was another breaking point. It was the breaking point that caused me to do something about it. Because I wanted to get rid of this pain.
In healing the physical pain, I had to heal my entire body.
Everything changed for me. I did a major, radical overhaul of my life.
I entered 12 step, ACA, went to a recovery center, sought recovery coaching, attended programs at the recovery center, started exercising in small doses and moving again, stopped trying to prove myself to my husband, talked to my husband about what was going on for me. I had to STOP being passive aggressive and communicate my thoughts and feelings. I had to admit aloud how I felt and know what had happened to me in order to make changes in my life.
Now, it’s nearly five months later after finding ACA, starting to work my way though the 12 steps and entering recovery. It feels like an eternity has gone by, but I also know that five months is a very short amount of time in the large span of a life lived so far on this planet.
I’m will always be working on my recovery. Thank goodness I’m working on myself and getting myself to an amazing place. I am starting to heal.
It’s touch and go. Things are finally looking up. I don’t feel like I want to die anymore. That’s HUGE for me! I want to live! I wonder why I couldn’t see a way out back then, but I see a way out and forward now. My back is much better, and I’m increasing my load. The shooting pain down my right leg is at bay. It’s not healed, but at bay and tolerable. It’s been a year since my last steroid shot. A year! Yes girl!
The pain from the injury hasn’t healed completely. It’s a work in progress, just like me. Recovery is a work in progress. Something I do daily so I don’t go back to the dark place I was in. Every day is work so that I never have to make big work pushes I dread a day in my life. It’s maintenance now. Maintenance is work. For a time, 12 step and recovery was my work. Now it’s more maintenance. In starting to write again and post on this blog, I’ve been bringing myself back into balance with work. This is now the work. It’s all the work because it’s all related! Love it! I matter. I know I matter. I value me. I’ll NEVER go back to a 9-5, W-2 job that treated me the way I was treated for so many years. Very much like, I can’t let my family of origin or my husband or in-laws treat me the way they treated me.
The Thanksgiving holiday was a huge reminder of the things I’d let go that no longer served me and that no longer had any control over me because I didn’t want them to: food, emotional eating, inviting family to dinner that made me miserable over a sense of obligation I felt I had. I did the things I did want to do: I posted a blog post on Thanksgiving day, I enjoyed my day with my husband and dogs, I didn’t emotionally eat or eat like garbage. My new ways of being and being happy in the world are sticking. Old ways are gone and new ways of being are sticking.
Before I could even start to heal my life, I had to figure out what happened to me. I did my memoir. Then I needed more convincing through a huge injury to see that I was truly hurting emotionally and physically. I felt bad in my mind and body for a reason. I started looking for ways to heal myself because I felt so bad. I also noticed what was out of balance in my life and sought solutions to bring me back into balance. I finally found the solutions that worked for getting back to the girl in college, but a better version of her. Happiness is a work in progress, and I’m living every day.
As they say in ACA/12 step, “The program works if you work it.” So true. But before you can find the program, you gotta see where you’re hurting and spot the hurt so you can do the work to heal.
Happy Thanksgiving to you! I hope you have a wonderful day!
To kick off the holiday season, my husband and I went to see Polar Express last night. Afterwards, we went to look at a Christmas light display set up at a local park called Sunset Hill Farm. You drive through the light display on a paved path. It’s really cool and always puts us in the holiday spirit.
The movie was full with people. There was a set of four teenagers and one parent next to us in the theater. They were talking throughout the movie and on their phones the remainder of the time. Distracting.
I kept thinking, “Why would you bother going to see a movie when you have no intention of watching the movie, cannot sit still and can’t be present in the moment to watch the movie?” I was distracted by them because they were distracting.
During the light show, I watched cars of people drive by and saw the glowing screens in the car. I asked myself a similar question, “Why would you bring your family to see a light display if they are watching the light display on their phone and not looking at the lights at the park?”
Sometimes it makes no sense to me, this world of multi-tasking with being semi-present everywhere but not being fully present anywhere.
I consider myself lucky because I lived through a time when there was no social media and a cell phone was called a car phone and you used it to call someone else if you were in an emergency situation or running late.
That being said, I struggle with being distracted by my phone at times too.
And I wish I could say it was just teenagers. It’s nearly all ages. Most people use their phone in the way a baby needs a pacifier to chew on when they are teething. Children need their parents phone or tablet to keep them calm, quiet and pacified. Teens need their phones to be in contact with their friends on social media and know what’s going on in their world on social media. Adults and senior citizens are no different than the teens.
Social media has created a distracted world where people want to be in the virtual world with their friends and connections they have there, along with being in real world with their family and friends.
Just because we can do both doesn’t mean we should do both.
The truth is that it doesn’t really matter when you were born. We are all easily distracted by this. The benefit to being born before this technological interruption is that you are able to remember what life was like before all of this distraction entered our lives. You wanted to know what was going on? You saw your friends at school or in your neighborhood and found out the 411 there. You didn’t have a device that made it convenient and easy to see what’s going on with your friends AND be with your family at the same time…all in real time.
The older I get the more distraction I see because I’m noticing younger generations aging that grew up with a phone in their hand from their youth and they are now the upcoming generation.
Teens, right now, seem to be the worst offenders because they don’t know a life without distraction and their phones. They want to be present online and with their families because that’s what they’ve learned growing up.
The distraction and addiction to the phones was taught to them by my generation and older, who are also addicted to their phones but remember life before distraction.
Consider, this holiday season, just for an hour or two on the actual holiday, taking off your watch and turning off your phone and try being present with your family. This sounds easy, but it’s not. Between watches and phones present at the table, this is a hard ask.
Try to imagine a holiday meal with no phones sitting off to the side of the plate or people checking notifications on their watches. The larger the family gathering, the bigger the ask would be. It’s hard for me to picture it.
This is what I’m doing this entire day. I’m going to take my watch off during our Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy my meal. My phone will be upstairs. I’m going to take the day off of checking email entirely. It’s small steps like this and repeating them consistently that can lead to big change. I’m going to ask my husband to do the same thing I’m doing for the meal: No watch or phone at the dinner table for the 20 minutes it’ll take us to eat our meal. I want to just be present with myself and him during the meal. I want to be present during any conversations we have, and I want him to be present with me as well.
Instead of using your phone, watch or tablet to pacify yourself during the meal, like a baby chewing on a pacifier, maybe try being present with just your family or friends instead of trying to be in a virtual world and in the real world at the same time.
If you’re having a virtual Thanksgiving, then do the opposite of what I’m doing today. Be present with your family on the Zoom Thanksgiving dinner, or the people on your discord server and just be there. Look people in the eye when they are talking and be present and listen.
If you need your phone, tablet or watch by your side as a way to dissociate and pacify yourself to get through the meal with hard-to-be-with family members, then maybe you should be asking yourself why you’re there at all? If you’re with people that are that hard to be with and you need any kind of pacifier to get you through the meal, ask yourself if you want to be there at all.
This doesn’t just apply to technology. A pacifier could be alcohol, drugs, or TV. It doesn’t have to just be tech, social media and the internet. Your pacifier could be a combination of all three.
Try being really present with your family and see what comes up for you. By being fully present in your world of choice, solely virtual or real world, you get a chance to notice your need to use your pacifier of choice. Then you can ask yourself why you need the pacifier? Why do you want to dissociate with it?
For me, this would be because my family and my in-laws are hard to be around because they make me uncomfortable. If my mother is criticizing me at the meal for what I’m eating or how much weight I’ve lost or gained, I’d want to pull out my phone and scroll or maybe have a glass of wine to numb the pain of the emotions I feel about whatever she’s projecting onto me. Notice the urge to pacify yourself and ask yourself what’s behind the need to pacify. In this example, it’s my mother. Guess who’s NOT coming to Thanksgiving this year? My mother. My in-laws either.
Be present, notice the situation and the urge to want to dissociate with your pacifier of choice, take as many pacifiers away as you reasonably can and then take the data you collect on your own during the meal and ask yourself: How can I be more present and truly enjoy my meal next year? Are there people who really bother me that make me want to pacify myself and check out? Why did I want to get on my phone when my mother-in-law is telling me that I need to talk more during the meal? Maybe NOT having my MIL at my Thanksgiving table would make it easier for me to feel good about myself and be truly present at the Thanksgiving table. Then take steps the following year to put yourself in a better situation and set yourself up for success without pacifiers.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season! I hope you take the opportunity to see what’s happening without pacifiers present so that you can make the next holiday even better for yourself and pacifier-free (or as close to pacifier-free as you can reasonably get).
I am heading to Chicago today to see a really long opera called Don Carlos by Verdi.
Let’s define an endurance sport as a marathon today and call a finishing time 4 hours. For me, that’d be super fast! The only marathon I’ve ever done was Chicago Marathon in 2011 which took me 6 hours and 58 minutes to finish. The time limit on Chicago Marathon is 6 hours and 30 minutes. I didn’t get a book time, got a DNF and barely got a finisher’s medal. They were breaking everything down when I got to the finish line. Such a bummer in some ways. But there’s the fact that I made it to the finish line and I finished that marathon for ME. No matter what any results say, I know I finished that marathon.
Opera is like an endurance sport for the mind.
In my opinion, opera is excellent mental training for an endurance sports.
Don Carlos is a 5 act opera with a 30 minute intermission. The total run time will be 3 hours and 50 minutes. Let’s round up and call it 4 hours. That doesn’t include going to a pre-opera talk, or the hour drive up or back in Chicago traffic.
The longest opera I’ve ever seen was 5 hours. I almost fell asleep at one point, but I made it through.
There are supertitles titles in opera if you see them live at an opera house like Lyric Opera. Supertitles are used for live performances. If you see an opera through the MetHD in a movie theater, then you have subtitles to view. Supertitles, used for live performances, and subtitles, used for recordings, project what’s being sung in a foreign language int eh opera into the native language of the audience. The version of Don Carlos I’m seeing today is sung in French, and the supertitles for the live performance will be shown in English.
Four hours of listening to a story sung in a foreign language and looking up and down between a projector to see what’s being sung to know what’s going on on-stage requires a lot of focus. Plus there are many stimuli to pay attention to beyond the story. There’s what’s going on with the music, the singing, the acting, sometimes dancing and trying to make sense of all of it put together. Plus, if it’s something I haven’t experienced before, there’s the novelty of all of it and trying to get through it the first time with knowing nothing about it.
I can train myself in advance for what I’m going to see so I know the storyline before I see it. I could listen to the opera before I go. I can attend the pre-opera talk so I have an idea of what to listen for in the music, know a little bit about the composer and learn a little bit about the storyline. If I really wanted to, I could even listen to a pre-recorded version on Apple Music.
Opera is similar to the mental and physical training you have to put in to be able to cross the marathon line. Let’s say neither are requirements in our life. Opera is a luxury and not compulsory. Let’s say the same for marathon. It’s recreational and not our job. Both could be, but let’s say they are just for fun and not necessary components in our lives.
Just like you’d train for a marathon over many months to prepare your body for it, especially if it’s your first rodeo is a lot like attending an opera. There is mental focus required in both to get you through the event. There’s a physical component more so in a marathon, but it’s there in opera sometimes just to keep you sitting up and not falling asleep because not all opera experiences are the same (some will put you to sleep). There’s the dreaded lines for the bathroom in either scenario. There’s a 30 minute intermission at Lyric Opera for a reason (i.e. it’s an old building and not exactly optimized for long lines of people who use the bathroom at the same time) just like there are porta-potties along the marathon routes for a reason( four hours and beyond is a long time to wait before needing to use the bathroom.)
If you’re looking for some mental training for your next endurance event plus a chance to flex your mind, broaden your cultural horizons, and have a treat for the senses, I recommend you try out going to an opera. You might find that the skills you’ve cultivated as an endurance athlete might help you get through the long event if you’ve participated in endurance events in the past where you had to sit with yourself for long periods of time and focus on getting yourself across the finish line. If you’re training for your first event, I recommend you give opera a try because it’ll teach you a valuable lesson that endurance is a sport of the body and the mind to cross the finish line.
At some point, 4 hours in an opera will feel easy. Just like being on an endurance course for 6 hours will feel easy. You have to stick at it. Neither opera nor endurance sports are easy at first, but the more you do either the easier it gets.
My husband and I are going to hear Handel’s Messiah. My husband is not an opera goer. He said that the Messiah was long. I asked him how long it was because I didn’t know. He told me it was 2 hours and 20 minutes. I said to him, “Oh, that’s nothing.” I should’ve clarified what I said by adding, “Oh, that’s nothing for me, but I understand that will be a lot for you.”
In sports terms, a 10k feels like “nothing” when you’ve gone a marathon distance or longer. In cultural terms, 2 hours and 20 minutes of run time for any kind of event is “nothing” when you’ve sat through much longer events that require much more focus.
For a newbie in sport or culture, though? A 10k isn’t nothing it’s something. It’s hard. Same with cultural events-2 hours and 20 minutes is a lot to sit through when you’ve never heard a piece of music played for you with a chorus singing.
Appreciate where you started.
See how far you’ve come. Appreciate where beginners are at.
Respect the event.
Respect the distance and time.
Remember you were a beginner too and things weren’t always easy for you.
Know that things will get easier over time, and life won’t always be as hard as it is when you’re just beginning.
Realize if a marathon or a 4 hour opera is easy now, that maybe it’s time to do something new that challenges you like an ultra marathon or learning to play an instrument in the music you listen to in your favorite operas (this is what’s next for me in the culture department).
Always challenge yourself and try to do a little more than you did before otherwise you’ll get bored in your body and mind. Keep moving. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck. If you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re never going to grow as an athlete or as a person.
I’m coming back from a pretty big-for-me injury. I injured my lower back in February 2021. The pain first started with swimming. Then it went away after a few weeks. I thought I’d just thrown my back out from too much stress. Then, in March 2021, I was doing a resistance band workout and my lower back went to the point of pain that I’d never felt before.
In all my years of activity, I’ve never had an injury that took my breath away, caused me so much pain and incapacitated me for a year to where I was afraid to move because I was in so much pain.
I stopped moving for a year because I was so afraid of this pain. I did everything the medical professionals told me to do: physical therapy, get an x-ray, get 2 MRIs, get two steroid shots, stop moving, start moving again and lose weight.
I just couldn’t understand why my body betrayed me after being active for years and only ever suffering from three injuries and only one of those three injuries was extremely painful.
Oddly, all three injuries were on the right side of my body. My first injury was the ball of my right foot mostly near my big toe. I was doing a Jive exercise and I slammed my foot into the ground at the suggestion of my coach, and boom – injury. It made it hard to walk and to teach for a while. The injury was around for about a year, but it healed and it was gone. Second major injury was on my right calf and lower leg. I injured it running. It went away after about 6 months. The current injury has lasted over a year, but I’ve seen the pain reduce since the last steroid shot in December 2021. The injury is still there. My body can feel it in my lower back. I’m never comfortable sitting. This injury is something I’ve learned that I must accept and live with. I hope it will heal, but no one has given me a good outlook on that. The last doctor I saw was in March 2022 who told me I’d need a spinal fusion. He said we’d have to work on pain management and trying to make me as comfortable as possible. He recommended I start exercising again and lose 20 pounds.
I was 5 feet tall and 198 pounds at that point. Hearing I might need a spinal fusion got me moving again. Slowly I’ve built fitness back up, and every day I go a little further than before and I surprise myself. I still have the discomfort of the pain and the fear of the pain coming back at the intensity it was at. That shooting pain down my right leg was too much, and my body remembers that pain.
To build myself back up, I started vlogging for one of my YouTube channels with a little vlogger kit and my phone at a local park. The terrain was soft, it got me outside, it got me talking and being creative while I was “exercising.” I put exercising in quotes because it didn’t feel like exercise. I started doing it in March and it lasted until it got too hot outside for me to want to keep doing it. Eighty degrees is too hot for me, and in NWI, that means I stopped vlogging outside around the end of June.
The next step to rebuilding my fitness was going for walks along the beach with my husband. Sand was a soft terrain for me but it helped build up my core and leg strength without impact on my joints. We also started going into the water in July when the weather got warm. I would aqua jog in Lake Michigan or we’d take a walk along the beach where the ambient temperature was generally cooler than it was in the park.
I found my way to twelve step in all of this towards the end of July 2022. I started going to my recovery center and participating in their programs in very early August 2022. They had an outdoor cycling program going on, and I decided I’d try it. I was terrified of the back pain and potential discomfort, not to mention I hadn’t been on my road bike in years.
Cycling turned out to be a blast. I missed two rides between when I started in August and the last ride of the year which was end-of-October 2022.
Cycling didn’t bother my back too much the same way aqua jogging and walking on soft surfaces in the park or beach walking didn’t bother it too much either. In fact, cycling seemed to help it.
I started doing yoga again as well on Apple Fitness + in August. I started to build myself a workout routine that was low impact and had cardio and core and some easy strength.
In September 2022, I did a duathlon. It was supposed to be run-bike-run, and I thought I couldn’t run at the time. I knew I could bike the distance of the race: 12 miles. I also knew I could walk the run portions of the race. The first leg of walking was 1.5 miles. The last leg of the walking was 3 miles. I knew I could do all three things, so I challenged myself and signed myself and my husband up for the duathlon. We did it! We crossed the finish line together. We were the last finishers. That didn’t matter to me. I’ve been the last place finisher at many, many, many races back when I participated in running races, triathlons, and cycling events.
I was so excited to see myself progress and cross the finish line nearly pain free, that I used it as motivation and kept on going.
My recovery center has a gym with dumbbells, kettlebells, TRXs, boxing bag, barbell weights and some cardio machines like ellipticals, rowers, stationary bikes, and treadmills.
The first workout I did was mix of boxing and TRX. I walked out after my first workout with very little pain. Workouts have increased in intensity and I have added resistance training to my workout with dumbbells. I even jump sometimes.
Impact. Jumping. I had to stop doing anything like after I first injured my back.
Jumping got me thinking about running again.
I asked myself if I could run again?
In October my husband and I started going for hikes and they have increased with distance and intensity.
This got me thinking even more and I asked myself if maybe I could run again, but do it it on the trails this time. Running is high impact, but it would be much softer to do on the trails.
Then I bought Apple Watch Ultra to challenge myself. If I bought this watch, could I train to do an ultra trail race, like a 50k?
I bet I could.
The watch came in and we’ve been getting used to one another.
This whole time, I’ve been avoiding running.
That fear of the old pain is still there.
This blog keeps me accountable. If I put out into the world that I’m doing X thing, then I tend to keep showing up and doing X thing.
So, I’m holding myself accountable today for trying to go outside and walk/run on a trail near my home. Want to join me virtually? I’m not sure exactly how virtual walk/run trail workouts work, but I do know that I can post my training plan on this blog, and people can follow me. I can share my workouts on here, and post my feelings and you can follow me here and on my social media platforms.
So, here is the first part of my recovery center building program planning and also the details on holding myself accountable for eventually running.
I’m starting with a trail walk/run because I think that will be easier for me than just flat out trying to run the whole time. I’m starting easy and will work my way up. I may not be near a 50k trail distance right now, and my plan is to walk/run that distance, but I hope I blow myself away with my strength and resilience like I have this entire back pain journey that’s been going on since February 2021 and is nearing the two year mark. Yuck.
I may have to live with the pain my body feels. However, if you made it to the end of this post, you will have read my physical recovery story of my body and see i’ve built my body back over time with various methods and that I’m going strong.
You’ll also be reading this line right here: I’m scared of the pain.
I’ve been saying for a week now that I’m going to do a trail walk/run race. My first goal race is a 5k walk/run. But I’ve yet to go out for the walk/run.
If you’d like to post virtually about your experience, email me at email@example.com and let me know you’re interested and I’ll create a space for other like minded people to join me.
Something else I’m very bad at is social media. It’s the social part of social media I don’t do so well with. But I’d love to build up a community of like-minded people who are interested in doing some group runs both in-person and virtually. If you live in Northwest Indiana, and you’re interested in guided trail walk/runs or hikes, email me and let me know.
I’ll build the space once I have interest both in-person and virtually.
My workout today is going to be walk 5 minutes and walk run 30 seconds for 5 intervals on the trails over by Bailly Homestead/Chelburg Farms in Porter, Indiana. I’m really scared of the running. But I’m going to try it and see how it goes. I’m hoping the pain won’t come back and be as bad as I fear it was in the beginning when I first injured myself.
Sometimes I wonder if my body holds onto the intensity of the pain to keep me from re-injuring myself. I remember how much pain I was in, and the fear of that pain holds me back. Yet, when I exercise, I don’t feel any pain at all. No shooting pain. Sure I’m a little stiff in my lower back, but nothing like before.
I’ll post tomorrow about how this goes. Worst case scenario is that I try running for 30 seconds, discover the pain, and I go back to my car and drive home. I can always stop and go home. I can always walk it if running is too much. I’ve got this, in some form. I have to get out and try though. I hope you’ll join me in person or virtually down the road!
Let’s build a recovery community of like-minded athletes!
Have a good run, walk, hike, bike ride, whatever you do. Get out there and move!
You build consistency. You learn to be kind to yourself daily. You build your life from the ground up. You never have to work a day in your life in an arduous way and you build a life of no dread because you care for your mind, body and spirit daily. These are some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life to date.
The lesson really started with ballet when I was 6 years old. Dance taught me that practicing something every day for three decades got me to a point where I was at the top of my craft. I never had to work a day in my life at it because I worked everyday of my life at it. It was my profession and my hobby and my passion for a very long time. Until it didn’t serve me anymore. When it was done, I walked away from it, and started to build new routines and a new life around new things. The lesson of building consistency went with me and served me well in the next chapter of my life when I was a total beginner and didn’t have dance to fall back on anymore.
When I left the dance world, I only had one thing in my life. It was hard to find new loves and passions because I only had nourished that one thing. I felt a huge void in my life when I chose to leave dance because I had nothing to replace it. That was another invaluable lesson that I learned: nurture many things in your life, not just one. It’s the adage of not putting all of your eggs in one basket.
You’ve seen glimmers and glimpses of my journey to replace dancing and teaching on this blog if you look at older posts. Most of the activities I did then, I kept doing over the last decade, and I still do many of them to this very day.
The differential in the equation is time. I’m not a novice at any of them anymore.
Here’s what replaced dance for me:
Food as fuel
Fitness like weight lifting and endurance sports
Going to more live cultural events such as ballets, operas, symphonies, musicals and plays
Seeing my life as an experiment and constantly testing and trying new things
Minimalism, Essentialism and Intentionalism: Minessententionalism
My new hobbies are all somewhere in this blog.
I saw my start of art class when I wrote about my Wine and Canvas adventures. That launched a decade of a love of doing art. Drawing, Zentangle, pastels, stained glass. I enjoy art journaling, water colors, origami, photography, videography.
Food as fuel
You saw my love of food as fuel as I wandered into veganism and out of veganism and into got into growing my own food. I’ve also tried different manners of food as fuel in trying out organic foods and different diets like keto, low carb, intermittent fasting. I also struggled for a long time with emotional eating and got out of balance with food so that I could come back into balance with food.
I’ve written about triathlons on this blog. I’ve explored marathons, cycling, swimming, hiking, duathlon, yoga, sitting on my butt, and injury and have come back from injury. I’ve learned to enjoy weight lifting. I love to move, and that has always been at the center of this blog.
Attending live cultural events
I got into this more heavily in 2016. I’ve gone to cultural events since I was a child. It started with going to the symphony and ballet every year with my mother, and the love expanded beyond her whether she was in my life or not. My husband even started going with me to some of these events and developing his own love of live cultural events on his own.
I’ve always had an interest in writing. I’ve always been good at it. It was one of my best subjects in high school and college. Writing and public speaking were my two best subjects in college, and dance too. Even though I didn’t go to school for any of those things. If I didn’t love to write, I wouldn’t have started a blog. Sure, life got in the way of regular posting in 2015, and I had to take a break. But writing for me has been a constant, whether it’s blogging, journaling, doing morning pages, writing scripts for YouTube videos.
Seeing my life as an experiment and trying and testing new things
You can see many experiments that I started and failed at and repeated on this blog. This is present in the blog itself- an experiment recording my life as I go; my life on the move.
When I first started this blog, I saw it as something I could build and scale. I thought about writing, yoga, video, the sky was the limit. Life got in the way for a long time, and I wasn’t present on this platform. But I never stopped being an entrepreneur. I launched an art business that failed. I launched a life coaching business that failed, but I’m still trying to do at saradaltoncoaching.com. I’ve kept sarathlete.com going even when I wasn’t posting. I launched a plant business at therareplanthaus.com and sold tropical plants. I came back to sarathlete, and I still have the plant business and the life coaching business going. I want to start a photography and video business. I was an ballroom dance coach for years for private business and as an independent coach. Working a W-2 job as I tried to build business endeavors crushed my soul to the point where I couldn’t do W-2 work anymore. Doing W-2 work for so long taught me that I don’t fit in there and that I can never go back to for my own inner peace and sanity.
I have always believed at my core that I am a minimalist, essentialist and intentionalism. Living my life in a way that aligns with my beliefs of the cross between living a meaningful life with what is essential and with great intention and having minimal things in my life. I created a word around it as a result of how much I love living my life this way. It’s simple. It serves me well.
Plants brought me back to the land of the living. When I wanted to die because I thought life was no longer worth living based on the realization of what had happened to me and finally figuring out why I felt so awful, plants were the first thing that made me want to restart my life. They were living things that required nurturing, but not a ton of nurturing. When my in-laws, husband and parents abandoned me and rejected me and the COVID-19 pandemic was going on and so much of what I loved to do was put on hold, this was a brand new activity I found on my own and nurtured and developed. I kept an orchid alive! I built a business around selling plants. I got on video and talked about plants. I built terrariums as home decor pieces in my house. Living things made me want to live again. I’m so grateful for that.
Dance taught me to do one thing and do it really well over and over and over and over. Dance taught me mastery and consistency. Dance also showed me that I when I stopped wanting to try to fit into the world of dance and rejection came that I couldn’t do it anymore, and that I had no other activities to fill the void. I learned to be a beginner in my life at so many things. I had to rebuild my life. The activities that I started nurturing and was a beginner at, I am no longer a beginner at anymore. I learned to explore new things, not put my eggs in one basket and nurture many things daily with the consistency I’d built from dance so that my passions and purpose aligned and I do these passions every day so I never have to work a day in my life because I work every day of my life a little at a time!
A Minessententionalist is a hybrid word I made up for someone who identifies as a cross between a minimalist, essentialist and intentionalist.
I even Googled the word I made up just for fun to see if it existed because Google must validate everything, right? Well, it kind of does.
Check out my four screen shots for Minessententionality, Minessententionalism, Minessententionalist and Minessententional showing zero results in Google.
Where the lines draw out for me when it comes to what I chose to bring into my life, is someplace between minimalism, essentialism and intentionalism. So, I get Minessententionalism. Hard to spell and say: Min-essen-tention-al-ism! But hey, the word Sarathlete is hard for other people to spell and say, too.
Minessententionalism: the minimal things I own or bring into my life with intention behind them which are essential to my me, life and my views.
What are some things (people, places, items, experiences) that are minessententionial to you?
Here’s my list of 5 items/experiences I’ve recently brought into my life, and how they are intentional, essential and minimal to me:
Apple Watch Ultra:
How it is Intentional: Getting back on track for my fitness goals as a come back from an injury and rebuild my body. I want to be very intentional with my training. A watch that will last me on long runs that can track my sleep and get me where I need to go without having to be tethered to a phone is exactly what I need.
How it is Essential: Movement is essential to me and an extremely important part of my life before, during and after recovery.
How it is Minimal: One watch. Simple. No more distractions from my phone. One device that can do it all and not leave me dependent on a potentially distracting device.
How it is Intentional: I needed a heating pad because my old one broke. I’m always cold. I found a heated throw and decided to try it as an alternative to a heating pad. Now I’m always warm when I’m under it, helps increase blood flow for my entire body which aids in muscle recovery for athletic performance, and it takes the place of having a heating pad.
How it is Minimal: Solves two problems for me as one item.
How it is Essential: When it’s that time of the month, a heating pad is essential for pain management. The last heating pad that I had broke, and I needed to buy a new one for myself.
Steam mop with reusable steam mop heads:
How it is Intentional: I wanted a way to lessen my carbon footprint. I wanted to throw less stuff away. I want to do my part to saving the environment. Previously, I was using products that were one-time use and then throw them away for cleaning my floors.
How it is Minimal: Less waste is coming in and going out overall.
How it is Essential: To me, having a clean house essential to living. My house needs to be clean. When I say “my house”, I say it collectively and am referring my house as my body, mind and spirit. However, for the sake of this blog post, let’s roll with the physical house I live in. Clean floors are apart of having a clean house. Bonus: I get a deep clean with steam, without the nasty cleaning product smell that I had before. This change was a win for both the environment and a win for my health.
Show tickets to see Don Carlos at Lyric Opera and A Christmas Carol at The Goodman:
How it is Intentional: I have something to look forward to doing. It feeds my mind and soul, shows me new things and I learn a lot.
How it is Minimal: I am gifting myself experiences and not stuff. Experiences keep me going. They feed my soul.
How it is Essential: Live cultural experiences like dance, plays, musicals, operas, symphonies or even movies are essential to my mental health and well-being because they bring me to a place of peace and bring me so much joy. The joy of what is to come gives me something to look forward to, I find peace at the event and there’s peace and meaning and feeling after the event is over.
YouTube fireplaces and other winter scenes to watch and listen to while I write
How it is Intentional: I want to create a space that I can write in that is cozy and makes me want to write for both my work and my life. I want to create Hygge in my home.
How it is Minimal: It’s on my TV. It’s ad free because I can’t stand YouTube ads. It takes up no space beyond the TV I have and internet connection I use.
How it is Essential: The fireplace creates a cozy space for me to write. Writing is part of my work and life. We all need a space.
I thought it would be fun to exemplify some of the overlaps between the three components of Minesssententionalism. There’s a lot of overlap between the three categories of intentionalism, minimalism and essentialism.
And just for fun, we have a new word mashup along the way. You know, Straight No Chaser is coming to the area in December. That would align with Minessententionalism and me! Who doesn’t love A capella music and a good mashup?