Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Invisible Line

When you run a race, you know where the starting line is and you know where the finish line will be. Sometimes it is 3.1 miles away, sometimes 13.1, and for all those die-hard runners it could 26.2 miles away. You might not be able to physically see the finish line, but you know what must be done to get there.

Last week I ran a 5K, and the starting line and finish line were the same. I knew I had to get back to the big arch of purple and white balloons. That was the seventh 5K race I've done, and I'm by no means a professional runner, so for all of you awesome runners out there read this in relation to a much longer race. I just picked running up about 5 years ago and do these little races to challenge myself. During that race my thoughts turned towards completing goals, and this It Works journey I am on.

Last year I had set a PR in this race, and I was hoping to hit that mark again (or beat it). I knew it would be tough for me since I hadn't had the greatest sleep the last 2 nights. Here is how it progressed...

Mile One: I was ahead of my PR pace.

Mile Two: I was still ahead of my PR pace.

But then as Mile Three began we suddenly turned into the wind and my tired body took over. I can pretty easily run a 5K (albeit not quickly), so for me to falter after 2 miles was unusual for me. My legs started dragging, but I kept pushing my body because I knew how much further I had to go. I continued to push on because I knew the mile markers were marking my journey and I could SEE the finish line. Off in the distance those purple and white balloons were blowing in the wind. My mind talked my body out of stopping...I just had a little more to go.

But...what if I hadn't been able to see the finish line? Would I have had the gumption to keep going? What about you...What if someone told you to go run a race, but you didn't know how long it would be or when you would ever see that finish line? You have a goal of finishing the race, but you just have no idea how long it will take. Would you have the endurance to keep going? Would you keep fighting for that goal?

This got me to thinking about my It Works journey. I am going to be very real and open here. I have had doubts lately because my 3 year anniversary is fast approaching and I am not close to where I thought I'd be. I contemplated throwing in the towel. As I ran it got me to analyze why I felt like I could throw in the towel on a business I have worked so hard for, but yet when my body wanted to collapse last week my mind was able to convince it to keep going. WHY!?!?

For me, it is because I could SEE the finish line. I knew if I pushed for 5 or 10 minutes more the END would be in sight. But, with It Works we are given no timeline for our goals. No one says, if you work hard for 3 months you'll hit Ruby (a promotional level in our company). Or, push hard for 10 months and you know at the end you'll be a Diamond. For that reason myself and others might lose motivation to reach our goal because we can't SEE it. There are no purple and white balloons (in our case they would be black and green) blowing in the distance to lead us to that goal.

So, how do you keep your endurance to reach your goals? For me, when I run a race I start right away by picking a person in front of me and then I chase them. When I pass them, then I pick another and chase them, and then another, and so on. Eventually I cross that finish line. With It Works my "runner" is one of the reasons I started this journey in the first place. I'm looking to help my family with our financial struggles. Shouldn't that keep me going? But, truth be told, it is hard to keep pushing. I KNOW it is great motivation, but the drive and motivation is harder to maintain when no finish line is given.

I have quickly realized that with anything in life be it business related or not, I can't lose sight of the finish line, even though I never have been given a set time to know when I'll cross it. I need to stay motivated (chase those runners) along the way to keep moving by setting incremental goals along the way. And, in the end, I have to remember that every little goal along the way (no matter the size of the runner you are chasing) is a successful journey.

But, unlike a race, my finish line will keep moving. Once I cross that Ruby finish line, my next finish line will be Emerald and so on.

I didn't make my PR last week. At first I was upset about it, but then I thought....No way, I still should be proud because I accomplished my goal. My race wasn't how I planned it, but I DID it. Will it take me 3 1/2 years to hit Ruby? 5? Only God knows that. I just need to keep setting one goal at a time and enjoy the journey along the way.

Simply put....

"The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race."
- Unknown - 

This summer, when I ran on the beach in Oregon I felt like I could run forever. There was no visual end in sight, much like setting goals that have no visual end or time constraint to them. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me!

There are times that you just have to shake your head in wonder. I have found in parenting (and working at a school) you tend to do that multiple times a day. Sometimes it might be a little shake, other times you feel like you head might snap off in disgust...or surprise....or joy.  Well, today it happened. Any working parent will be able to relate with the following scenario....

I'm a paraprofessional at the Middle School here in town. We had a LONG summer. A new high school was being constructed, and a lot of construction was also being done on the three other school buildings. All in all, our summer was almost 4 months long. Yes, 4 MONTHS LONG. That alone can make a person say, "Are you kidding me?" A long summer can be a great thing, but to a mom it can be rough. After two months your children are sick of all the trips to the park and the pool and all the other "fun" and "creative" ideas you tried to dream up. They start to turn on you (but it isn't my fault!) and each other.

Needless to say, there was much rejoicing when our first day of school rolled around. My girls don't go to the school I work at, so they started last week. Today was my glorious first day of school. My first day at work in 4 months. For 4 months I never had to fear them getting sick and me having to call in and request time off because I had 4 incredible months off of work! With that being said, I picked out an outfit to wear (yes, I'm 40), had my new lunchbox packed and I was ready to face the first day with a smile on my face.

It almost was not meant to be. In the past she is the one we have to drag out of bed, and she often struggles with a morning routine. We started the morning OK with my husband doing an excellent job of covering up the fact that the Tooth Fairy forgot (again) to come visit last night. But then she started complaining about a headache, and she does tend to get them. It quickly spiraled into not wanting to eat, being SO tired, etc. We were trying our best to get her ready and out the door, but it was not meant to be. Seven minutes before I was scheduled to leave for my first day of work she threw up multiple times in the living room. Instantly I knew that headache was one of her migraines that intensified to the stage of making her vomit.

But, I couldn't help thinking (and quite possibly stating out loud to my husband), "Seriously!?!? SERIOUSLY!?!? This is my first day back to work in 4 months and it is the first time our children have gotten sick in 4 months" Unreal.

It all worked out just fine. Jesse was able to stay home with her, but it just left me shaking my head once again. Call it cheesy but I would like to quote The Shirelles by saying, "Momma said there'll be days like this...."

In the end, this head shaking business worked out just fine just like it usually does. Hopefully, though, Day 2 will not be quite as eventful. I do work at a middle school, though, so anything is possible.  :)

Simply put....tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mom, I'm OK

There are few words that stir up such a mixed batch of emotions in me as does this one: PARENTING.

Before children I looked at the whole concept of "parenting" in probably a naive way. I grew up in a family of 5 children, and somehow my parents made parenting look quite easy. I'd like to say it was because we were all little angels, but I know that isn't true. My guess is that to some extent my parents went through the same gamut of emotions I feel as a parent. If not, I hope some other parent reading this is nodding their head so I know I'm not the only one.

From the first time your child grabs onto your finger, and then your hand, you want them to know you will never let go. You got this, right?? Right!?!? But then the first sleepless night happens or they start crying uncontrollably and you don't know what is wrong....then you start to think that there is much to learn. Parenting is challenging yet rewarding, complex but yet at times so simple, rewarding yet so frustrating, tiring yet so energizing...and the list could go on. And, just when I think I've mastered something, I'm taught something new. 

These past two days have twice taught me how resilient children can be, even your own. As a parent you know your children's personalities and what makes them tick. You prepare for each new adventure accordingly. You make sure all the landmines are avoided. You tread carefully. Then the unexpected happens and you are surprised.

Hold on, girls. I'm here...and I'm learning.
Scenario #1
Our older daughter has always been strong willed to the core. She is confident in most situations and likes to do things on her own. Case in point, when she started Kindergarten I walked her in the first day. The second day she didn't want me to get out of the car, and as she walked away she said, "I got this, Mom." Well, OK then....As most of the other moms walked their children inside I sat in my car and tried not to be offended that my child didn't need/want me there. I attempted to make myself feel better by saying a prayer of thanks that my daughter will have the confidence to face many things in life. 

From the time she started all-day preschool she has always enjoyed school. I think last year she maybe complained about a little bit of math homework, but she did it. So, needless to say I was surprised when I picked her up from the first day of 2nd grade yesterday with a sheepish look on her face. By the time we got home there were tears rolling down her face. It doesn't really matter why, it was more the fact that this was so unusual for her. Due to the nature of the tears, I was expecting this to hit her quite hard. 

I was wrong. This girl is resilient. We chatted about the day, and after she had time to soak it in and get a little TV time to unwind she was back at it. By the time my husband got home she was having a dance party with her sister. She was ready to go back out there and tackle the world, and today she was ready to get back to school. 

Scenario #2
Our younger daughter is, in many ways, a polar opposite of her sister. She is much more of a free spirit and has always been more shy than our eldest. Cuddles and hugs are her thing, and she tends to stick close by my side in new environments. It takes her a bit to get acclimated to new people as well. She also went to an all-day preschool, and the first few days of that were not easy ones for her.

Knowing this, I thought the first day of Kindergarten might be a tough one for her. Not only is it a new room and a new teacher and new friends and new expectations, once I leave she wouldn't have my hand to hold onto.

Today was the big day. We found her room and her locker and got her things put away. She went into the classroom and signed in and picked her lunch option. No words were spoken, but she didn't need to because I could tell it all by the look on her face. It is a look she gets when she is taking it all in, and that look was very present today as well. Her teddy bear she was allowed to bring from home was in one hand, and with the other she made sure I was close by. Then it was time to say "goodbye."

Once again I was proven wrong. I knelt down to give her a hug goodbye. I told her I loved her and that I'd see her at the end of the day. She looked at me and I said, "Are you OK?" It was then that she spoke with a clear voice and said, "Mom, I'm OK." With that she walked off, found some new friends to play with and never looked back or called my name. I almost fell over.

I would be a fool to think that every day from here on out will be all peaches and cream for both of my girls, but this showed me that they are more than I maybe give them credit for. When those days come, I'll be here to pick them up and comfort and console them.

These children of mine that I thought I knew so well taught me these past few days the same thing. Our children are resilient. They grow. They mature. And they will surprise us when we least expect it. That is what I LOVE about parenting. 

Simply put...I'm learning. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sweet Success

Greetings and salutations friends! This is Sarah Simplified's simple husband here. I caught Sarah in a dazed and confused state and got her to agree to let me write a post here on her blog. If you'd be so kind as to indulge me, I would love the opportunity to regale you with the world's greatest explanation of success ever written (by me in my own little world).

Right about now you might be wondering why in the world I would want to ramble on about success on my wife's blog. Well, here's the scoop... My wife became an Independent Distributor for It Works! about three years ago. In true motherly fashion, she did this to help our family. Since I am the greatest husband she has ever had (and only one), I support her 100% and do everything and anything I can to help her succeed. 

To do this to the best of my abilities, I forced myself to figure out what success looks like so I would know when we reached it. I've heard rumors about this whole success thing, but never really knew if I had ever found it, or achieved it. Today is your lucky day. I figured it out and I'm going to share it with you...kinda-sorta. 

Family, friends and money. Three things that most of us want and/or need to survive our short lives on this rock called Earth. But which one makes you successful? 

Families are everything. Without family, you don't exist, but that's basic biology. No family means no parents. No parents means no you. It's not the fine technicalities of lineage that I'm talking about though. I'm referring to the love, joy, sadness and pain that come from being part of a family. Yes, all those things. If you never have the sadness and pain, you'll never truly appreciate the love and joy.

Friends are right up there with family. They bring you the same love, joy, sadness and pain that a family does - just on a slightly different plain. Some of your greatest friends may even hold an honorary title of being family.

Money has a way of being both a blessing and a curse. However you look at it though, it is a necessity in life. There's not a lot out there that's free. It's a fact of life that you need money to buy the things you need to survive. The money left over after doing that is gravy.

So you're probably wondering which one marks success. The short answer is all of them. The more complicated answer is that it's different for everyone and you have to decide that for yourself. 

The wrong combination of these three can make you miserable. Lots of money with no family or friends gets pretty lonely. A big family with no friends or money can also be quite miserable. Fine tuning the mix that works for you will determine what success looks like for you. 

We have a wonderful family and lots of amazing friends. My wife started her business to help add a little something the the financial side of the picture for us. She did this because she loves her family. She continues to do it because her fellow It Works! friends are now like family. She also happens to love the products and truly enjoys sharing healthy living with others (new friends). The fact that it adds a bit of income to help out on the financial side is a bonus. 

The fact that she is able to do all this while still managing to be an incredible, loving mom and wife is amazing. If that's not success, I don't know what is.