Monday, April 15, 2013

Mastering Body: Races Galore!

Since I last wrote, I’ve run 3 races of all different distances.  March 24 I ran my first of (at least 4) half marathons this year, the Chi-Town Half.  April 7 I ran the famous Shamrock Shuffle and this past Saturday, April 13 I ran the Just Move it Challenge 5k.

Running these races in rapid succession has proved a very good thing for me, because I’m currently super jazzed about running.  I’m loving each and every run and have been looking forward to planning my runs appropriately to maximize results.  Right now, I’m just super excited to run and train all summer.

But also running these races ended up being big physical and mental victories for me.  I’ll talk about the mental victories in Friday’s Mastering Mind post.  So, today, let’s take a look at the awesome physical accomplishments that occurred during these 3 races!

  1. The Chi-Town half marathon was much more a mental victory than a physical one, but something physically great did occur.  While my time was 2:21:52, well shy of my PR, I am able to recognize one major accomplishment.  This was the first half marathon in which I ran the whole time.  My previous 2 half marathons both contained very short walks somewhere in the 11th mile.  So, although I was a bit slowed down, I ran the whole time which was a huge accomplishment for me.
  2. The Shamrock Shuffle was not a planned running event this year.  I came by an entry 4 days before the race and jumped at the opportunity to do it.  I had no expectations, in fact I couldn’t even remember the last 8k I ran, so I didn’t know what a decent time goal would be.  Until that morning and I just woke up knowing that I could run a 9:45 pace.  Turns out, I was right.  I actually ran 9:39 and PRed with a time of 47:56.  After looking it up, I beat my old 8k PR by about 5 minutes!!!
  3. This weekend’s 5k was a great surprise!  While I run 3 miles all the time, I’ve done nothing recently to work on my speed at that distance, because I’ve been too busy enduring longer runs.  So, I just thought I was going to use the race as an excuse to get my 3 miles in for the day, nothing major or noteworthy about it.  UNTIL I PRed in that race too!!!  I ran the 5k in 28:02 (a 9:03 pace) and beat my previous PR by 40 seconds!

Running consistently obviously pays off!!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mastering Mind: Returning from Vacation

So in truth, I returned from St. Thomas early in the morning April 3.  However, I seem to have had a very slow transitions out of vacation mode.  I had no intention of taking any time off from the blog during vacation.  I have every intention of pre-writing and scheduling the blog posts for while I was gone.  However, as you know, planning is not my forte and I totally and extremely dropped the ball.  For that, dear reader(s), I apologize.

Vacation didn’t end up being relaxing as I had hoped.  But it definitely served a different (perhaps life altering) purpose.  I was afforded the opportunity for a lot of soul searching and personal reflection and decided it was time to perhaps make some changes.  If these changes come true or prove successful, I will share them on the blog.

But for right now, I wanted to stop by, tell you hello and I’m alive.  I will resume regular blogging on Monday with a new Mastering Body Post.

Until then, I encourage you all to take whatever opportunity presents itself!  Go on the vacation.  Run the race without training.  Become reflective when the mood strikes.  Apply for the dream job.  Reconnect with the old friend.  Forgive yourself for past mistakes.

Carpe Diem!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mastering Mind: Embracing Vacation Opportunities

The title of this post implies that I have trouble going on vacation and the truth is, I do.  I have the difficulty for 2 reasons. One, with my independent contractor status at work; if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.  Two, I worry about leaving my clients for a week.

However, this new year and the Pilot’s new job has offered vacation opportunities that have just been too good to pass up.  So I’ve had to challenge myself to embrace these fun opportunities in appropriate and responsible ways.

In January, the Pilot was training in a new airplane for 3 weeks in Teterboro, NJ.  This presented the opportunity to fly to visit him in the middle of his trip and go across the river into New York (where I’ve never been).  This trip ended up being a long weekend trip from Saturday to Tuesday and because of the way my schedule works, I only missed one day of work!

Next week, I head to St. Thomas.  My father currently lives there, my Mom is down there visiting and the Pilot’s first flight at his new job is to (none other than) St. Thomas.  So I’m flying down there to join in the family fun.

I’ll be gone Tuesday to Tuesday, which is a full week of work, but if client’s want to see me next week they can squeeze themselves into my availability on Monday. 

I was also able to easily justify the cost of this trip; by traveling on off days (Tuesdays) and staying with the Pilot and then with my parents for free!!

Plus, I never took Spring Break vacations as a kid or in college, so why not embrace that idea now?!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mastering Spirit: First Day of Spring Blues

I know that Spring doesn’t typically bring about melancholy feelings, but this year Spring is being brought in with unseasonably cold temperatures.  Like a wind chill in the single digits.

Today it is definitely challenging my spirit.  It’s hard to remain positive and motivated to do anything when winter just keeps holding on.

However, a couple of weeks ago, The Pilot and I came up with the perfect solution to keep my spirits high during this lengthy weather transition.

We booked a vacation to St. Thomas next week!!!  (The same site as our honeymoon)


Monday, March 18, 2013

Mastering Body: I Want to Lose Weight

I know I’ve proclaimed this many times before.  And I also know that I’ve bragged about weight loss accomplishments.  However, the truth is, nothing seems to stick.  I count calories for awhile, then I stop. I cut out bread, or alcohol, or coffee and then I stop.  I try to add more fruit and vegetables and then I stop.

I am so used to eating what I like (which is rarely healthy), I can’t seem to stay away for very long.  And to be perfectly honest, I don’t understand it.

I am unhappy with the way my body looks (sorry to be a Debbie Downer and publically post negative self talk) and I have every reason to fight to be healthy.  My father is diabetic and has had open heart surgery. I know the consequences of my choices, yet I choose poorly anyway.

I often talk with client’s about how food is fulfilling some need within them, but I can’t for the life of me look inside and figure out what my psyche thinks I’m missing.  This is the one area where I really feel like my training failed me.  I really feel like I can’t fix me.

I know what I should be doing and I also know that I can do it (because I’ve done it before), but I just can’t seem to do it.  It’s very frustrating.

And for some reason, today, I can’t seem to focus on anything else.  So I had to share with you all;  I’m completely at a loss as to how to Master my Body.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mastering Mind: Blogging on Time

I had another Mastering Mind post planned for today, but since I basically completely forgot to blog, I thought I would change it up.

This blog has lived various lives. But for the last 6 weeks or so, it has begun to live the life I’ve been envisioning for it; 3 blog posts a week, each one themed either Mind, Body or Spirit.  I’ve also been trying very hard to have the blogs post at the same time on each of those 3 days (I read somewhere, that in order to increase readership, consistency is key).

However, that task (posting at the same time) has proved to be way more difficult that I ever would have thought.  On any given week, I usually have an idea of what I want to blog.  But, just because I know what I want to write about, doesn’t mean that I do it in a timely fashion.  I wait until the last minute and slap something together.

Today is no different, I knew what I wanted to blog about, but when I sat down to do it the words weren’t flowing.  I looked at the clock and had plenty of time before post time so I decided to step away and get other things done.

Some laundry, a 6 mile run and a shower later, I look back at the clock and realize that I’ve completely missed my post time.  Without even once, thinking about the blog from the time I walked way to the time I realized I’d messed up.

Now, today’s post is late and not what I had originally planned to talk about. But, I think this a good time to publically proclaim that I will come up with a better blog writing plan.

Like writing all 3 blogs on one day and schedule them to post accordingly. While it’s true that the consistency of my blog posting has improved, I really want to challenge myself to have the quality of the posts improve as well.

The only way to do that is to make a better plan and not slap something together at the last minute.  Wish me luck as I continue to improve the quality of this blog.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mastering Spirit: New Pope

I’m still sick and finding it extremely difficult to string coherent sentences together.  Luckily, this happened just in time to save me from posting something nonsensical today.

Once more information becomes available, I may share some more detailed thoughts.

But for now, I would just like to wish the Holy Father the best of luck. I’ll be praying for him.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mastering Body: Feeling Sick

I have managed to make it through most of this winter’s cold and flu season without feeling sick.  Until this weekend…

Saturday I felt fine during work, but then during my afternoon run, I really struggled.  I powered through and even went to my nephews birthday party that night.  After the party, the Pilot wanted to go meet up with a buddy for a few beers and I just knew I couldn’t do it.  I had the Pilot drop me off at home, told him to have a great time and I crawled into bed at about 9:30.

I slept off and on and into Sunday morning I progressively felt worse and worse each time I woke up.  Sore throat, scratchy voice, low energy, dizzy upon standing, labored breathing, and slightly achy.  I took yesterday “off,” as best I know how.  I still did laundry and dusted, but didn’t work out and tried to lay in bed.  The Pilot was amazingly attentive.  If he hadn’t responded so awesomely, I probably wouldn’t be a work today.

I feel better today than I did yesterday, but still not great.  I have zero concentration which made driving to work and therapy very difficult tasks.  But again, I’m going to power through.  I’m going to do less than I would on a completely healthy day, but more than I would do on a completely sick day.

When you are sick, do you muscle through and keep going?  Or do you rest and recuperate?  I try to find a balance between both approaches, but sometimes my body just won’t do as much as I want it to or it takes so long I get frustrated and stop.  everything feels so much more laborious when I’m sick.

I am incredibly thankful I am not down and out with the flu, but having a cold is frustrating because there is really nothing you can do other than let it run it’s course and I’m not a very patient person…

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mastering Mind: Flexibility

This week I took a big step and planned out my work outs.  I carefully looked at my schedule figuring out what I was capable of doing, on what day, at what time. Typically, I vaguely commit to working out and then do to a lack of any real planning and organization, something gets in the way and I don’t do it.

With this approach, I decided that Thursday was going to be my rest day.  I was working from 11 to 7 and seeing 6 clients during that time.  I knew there was no way I would work out before work and I knew I wouldn’t want to work out after that kind of day.

Then Wednesday came around and a string of several crises' got in the way of my day working out as I had envisioned (including my pre-planned work out).  Slowly, but surely, Thursday’s schedule started to shift and I realized I could work out on Thursday and make Wednesday my rest day.

This week, my commitment to working out was planned and strong.  Being that detailed, helped me remain committed to working out, instead of throwing in the towel like I would have on other weeks.  But, also, I wasn’t so hyper focused that I wasn’t able to problem solve and switch things around.

That was a great victory for this “all or nothing” girl!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mastering Spirit: What is Spirit Anyway?

My blog header alludes to the idea that Spirit is supposed to be tied with my religious identity as a Catholic woman and recently my posts have followed suited, especially with Confirmation right around the corner. 

But my Spirit really encompasses so much more. 

My religious spirit is Catholic.  But I also utilize other spiritual practices; yoga, meditation and Sanskrit chanting (to name a few).  My spirit also includes my soul, psyche and emotional well-being (as in “keeping your spirits up,” or “broken spirit”).

This is a short and long way of informing you, dear readers, that future Mastering Spirit posts might include other spiritual ideas, not just religious ones.

What does Spirit mean to you?  What topics would you write about, if you were blogging about Spirit?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mastering Body: Getting Reacquainted with the Long Run

As I mentioned in last week’s Mastering Body post,  I am starting to train for multiple half marathons throughout this race season.

The first race is Sunday March 24.  3 weeks away now!  In order to run this race, I’ve got to get back into distance running shape. Sounds easier than it is.

The first week of training the long run was only 4 miles, which was very manageable for me.  The following week, I was able to run all my prescribed runs, but my long run had to be shortened from 6 miles to 5 because of time constraints.  Then this week, running was just no on my radar.  I barely followed my plan at all, ran a horrible 7 miles and feel terrified to double that distance in 3 weeks.

However, after yesterdays run, I’m realizing 2 important lessons.

  1. Each shorter run really builds up your tolerance.  Last week when I ran as prescribed, each run felt better and better and I could have tackled the 6 miler with no problem.  And this week when I was barely focused on running, each run felt awful, my body and mind were not into it and took every once of energy I had just to make it to a long run of 7 miles (1 mile short of the planned 8).
  2. Training trickles over into all aspects of your life.  Even for “shorter” races like a half marathon.  I need to eat better, sleep better, stretch better and schedule my work outs better, so good things build on each other (like the week where all of my runs built on each other).

Now that I’ve made these realizations and connections this weeks training schedule and life plan looks very different.  Hopefully, next week I can report back a much better, more prepared feeling about having to run 13.1 miles in 2 weeks.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mastering Mind: Deadlines

At job interviews when people ask me what my weaknesses are, I always answer, “I’m a perfectionist and a procrastinator.”

When projects are assigned, right off the bat, I typically have thousands of great ideas.  However, because of my perfectionistic tendencies, I become overwhelmed by my own ideas, buckle under the pressure, procrastinate and then end up turning in good (but not great or perfect) work.

Because of that process, deadlines are my best friend and worst enemy.  They are my best friend because at least they at least require the work to be completed, otherwise I could put it off for forever.  They are my worst enemy because, as they approach my work seems to get sloppier and more frenetic.

Today is my worst nightmare in regards to deadlines.  I started out this morning finishing up a work assignment that was actually due yesterday.  Now I am writing this post 15 minutes before it’s supposed to post.  And what am I actually supposed to be doing today?  Taxes!  I told the Pilot, my tax stuff would be organized and totaled by this weekend and told myself I would spend all day on Friday on it.  Well here is Friday and I haven’t even started!

I know I could do incredible work, if I learned to start earlier and budget my time better.  But, I only remember this procrastination cycle throughout my whole life (elementary, middle, high school and college).

My approach to work changed drastically in grad school.  And, as I write this, I can’t for the life of me remember, what motivated me to stay so on top of things.   But, even if I could, would that same attitude be what motivates me now?  I kind of doubt it.

I think my best approach at this point is to make mini deadlines, that keep me on track before the big deadline and tell someone (maybe the Pilot?) about the mini deadlines, so the accountability is there.

Although, I would really love to discover a bit more personal accountability and motivation.  That’s a deadline for another day.

How do you handle deadlines?  Do you crave the structure?  Buckle under pressure?  Do you avoid the project?  Or do you get it done days before it’s due?

Any advice you have, would be greatly appreciated!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mastering Spirit: Making Time

This is going to be a short post.  “Making Time” really has multiple meanings, one of which being, I am making time (a very small amount) to write this blog post.

The past 2 weekends have been extremely busy.  Our schedules have been jam packed both days.   Despite the crazy schedules I am proud to say that The Pilot and I made it a priority to get to church both weekends.

We had to literally sit down, look at our schedules, look at the church schedule, plan what works for us, and commit to it.  Church has to become just as much of a commitment as all of the other things on our schedule.

It feels good to make a commitment and stick too it.  I really wish my mentality about making time for Church would bridge to other aspects of my life.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mastering Body: Half Marathon Schedule

*Sorry for the odd posting time (I try to make it a point to post at 3pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday), but there was no internet at work today, so blogging had to wait*

Last year I ran my first marathon.  It was a great experience, but training was long and hard and time consuming.  Not quite what I am looking for this year. So the Pilot suggested a series of half marathons over the race season, all about 6 to 8 weeks apart.

About a week ago we selected the races and then Saturday night we started the registration process.

Here is the schedule:

  1. Chi Town Half Marathon on March 24, 2013
  2. Rockford Half Marathon on May 19, 2013
  3. Rock ‘n Roll Chicago on July 21, 2013
  4. Fox Valley Half Marathon on September 22, 2013

I hope to improve my time with each race, but I don’t know yet how fast I can go.  I’ve selected this 6 week training program to start with, basically because I only had 6 weeks to train and I prefer to run as few days as possible Winking smile

After a baseline race and to start improving, I’ll probably move to this training plan, which I’ve used before and LOVED!!

Signing up for the races really gets me motivated to run consistently, so I’m excited for this race season to get underway.  Wish me luck!!

*You can follow my training on dailymile*

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mastering Mind: Defining Work

I’ve talked before about some of my scheduling difficulties.  Working odd hours and odd days can be quite confusing and sometimes when I’m working it doesn’t really look like work.  Or what I think other people perceive as work.

At times, I feel the need to justify what I call work.  Today is a perfect example;  I am writing this post on Friday morning (about 11am, but set to post at 3pm) at my makeshift desk at our kitchen table in yoga pants and sweatshirt.  I haven’t even showered yet.  I consider this work because blogging gets my creative juices following; necessary fuel to help me write articles for work or maybe some day author all the books I have titled in my head.  Later, I will read.  I am currently reading 2 work related books; I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me and Optimal Functioning.  Reading these books will make me a better clinician, but I doubt most people just get to read and call it work.  Later still, I might find time to study for the next licensing exam I need to take.

This will all be done from home, which could mean, no shower required and my uniform remains yoga pants and a sweatshirt.  Not a normal “work day".”

Yesterday is another good (but strikingly different) example.  I showered, wore work clothes and went to the office; saw 4 clients, conducted 5 intern interviews, spoke to the mother of a client about a future treatment plan and drank a lot of coffee.  However my business was conducted from 11am to 7pm (not the normal 9 to 5 gig).

My definition of work changes daily.  Next week on what is typically considered a work from home day, I’ll be attending two very different types of training; a meditation training and a Mood Disorders discussion lead by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Do any of you work non-conventional jobs or odd hours?  How do you define work?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mastering Spirit: Monica

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name Monica I immediately think of Monica (Geller) Bing from my favorite TV show Friends!  And while I’d love to write an entire blog post about Monica, or Friends, for that matter, this post is about a different Monica; ME!

I have chosen Monica to be my confirmation name.  I do struggle with feeling like Monica is a very modern name to be that of a saint, but after doing a bit of research, I couldn’t imagine taking any other name.

Back in high school, I would have taken the confirmation name Mary.  It is my mother’s given name and I thought that would be a nice way to honor her.  Plus, let’s face it, to a high schooler, it was an easy choice; no research necessary as Mary is one of the most famous saints.

However, as an adult, I needed a name that reflected me, not my mother and I was a little more willing to do some research to find the appropriate name.

So what aspects of me, did I want this name to reflect?  Well my profession, seemed like a good place to start, because I believe I have talents that drew me to this profession; empathy, good listening skills and emotional insight (to name a few).  Upon further reflection, I realized these talents were transferable to other aspects of my life, for right now, mainly being a wife, but what about the future when I become a mother?

Could it be possible to find someone that was the patron saint of Mothers, Wives and Counselors?  Turns out it was incredibly simple. 

Enter St. Monica.  So, St. Monica is known for watching over mothers, wives and counselors, which would have been enough to sell me on taking her name.  But she possessed other qualities, mainly motivation, determination and consistency, that I wish I had more of.

St. Monica was made to look over me and some of the major things I want to accomplish in my life (being a good wife, mother and counselor) and by taking her name I hope to begin to embody the qualities she possessed that I feel I’m lacking in (motivation, determination and consistency).

I have been blogging more consistently recently, so maybe Monica is already working her magic Winking smile

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mastering Body: An Active Rest Day

My fitness routine has been all over the map recently.  A little bit of running.  The occasional yoga class.  Sometimes I throw a weight lifting session in there for good measure. Nothing constant and nothing consistent. 

This past week has been a bit better.  Thanks to two very important people.  My first helper is my incredible husband, the Pilot, who sat down with me last weekend and together we planned our entire race schedule from March to November (blog post to come).

The other major support last week, was Rachel from Poor Girl Organics.  Rachel and I work together and our schedules were such this week that we managed to support each other through 2 work outs this week.

On Monday, we walked to the gym we are both members of and she rode the bike while I did a weight lifting session.  It was only 30 minutes out of our day, but having the accountability of another person, was extremely helpful for me to actually get me to the gym (I have no idea how it effected her).

Then on Wednesday, the sun made an amazing appearance after several days of non-existence.  Not only did it fill the day with plenty of light, it also warmed the earth, I was so inspired, I needed to get outside.  So Rachel and I set out on a nice leisurely walk to the closest Starbucks (which was 1.1 miles away). It was so physically, emotionally, and spiritually refreshing and a great way to spend an hour with a beautiful friend.

Wednesday was my active rest day. So, I went on a two mile walk with Rachel and then did a very light yoga work out.  That rest day was sandwiched in between half marathon training and consistent weight training.

It was a great week, with great activity and a great support system.

What do you do on your active rest days?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mastering Mind: Organizing

I went on an organizing spree this week!

A portion of my week, is spent in the office, with clients, co-workers, books and tons of paper.  The other portion of my week is spent at home with even more books and paper.  I constantly feel like the “Incredible Traveling Counselor,” moving piles of paper and books from one “office” to the other, because sometimes I work on projects that can be done in both places.

The Pilot finally got annoyed with my piles of paper that are overtaking the house and we formed the start of a game plan.  I woke up the next day and went into major work mode.  At my home office, I started making piles (work, personal, go to the office, trash, etc) and based on those piles bought desktop organizers to have at home.

Then, anything that was in the “go to the office” pile made it’s way to work and then I cleaned and organized everything at work!

Finally, the organizing stretched slightly into my personal life and I organized my nightstand drawer, which my entire life has served as a “catch all” drawer.

As the days have drawn on, my organizing rate has decreased, but I’m hoping to get back into mode today, as I attempt to start organizing me receipts for taxes Winking smile

When all this organizing is finally done, I will happily be showing you the finished product.  For the time being, I’m enjoying knowing where everything is!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mastering Spirit: 40 Day Practices

Since January 5th, I have been leading a 40 day transformational practice at work.  Previously this workshop was run by my bosses (I talk about it a bit here), but this year they went on a January vacation, so I took the reigns.

For 40 days, I meditated daily, did 8 sun salutations daily and chanted 3 separate Sanskrit mantras daily.  Then once a week, I led a class that included a Chakra lesson, group discussion, a group mantra chant and a group meditation.

This has been an amazing experience for me, both personally and professionally, which  is something I will talk about in a future post, because my transformational journey is not over yet!!

40 days from January 5th is today, February 13th.  Today is, coincidentally, also Ash Wednesday, which, in the Catholic faith, begins the 40 day practice of Lent.

So today, I close one 40 day practice and have the opportunity to start a new one.  This 40 day practice will look slightly different, but I know the results will compound each other.

I hope to share this journey with all of you and wish good luck to those of you looking to make positive changes this year also!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mastering Body: Reflexology

My physical activity motivation has really been low recently.  I’ll have spurts of good activity level, but then I’ll succumb to long draughts of inactivity. So, I don’t really feel qualified (not that I ever was) to talk about working out/running right now, as means of discussing how I’m Mastering my Body.

Further, while I feel as though I am making improvements in my eating habits, I also don’t feel prepared or qualified to be talking about that subject, yet.  I think part of me is scared the better habits, won’t stick, as we know is a pattern around here.  So, I’m waiting until my confidence level improves to talk about how food is helping me Master my Body.

So then, you ask, what will I be talking about in this category for the time being?  Other aspects of physical well being.  Mastering Body and physical health can be, and is, so much more than diet and exercise.  There are so many other things that go into physically feeling whole and healthy.

This week, my self-care included a reflexology appointment.  Reflexology believes that massage and pressure on the bottoms of one’s feet can help identify and possibly alleviate internal physical ailments in the rest of the body.  A very dear friend of mine is a reflexologist and sold me on it’s benefits years ago.  I don’t make appointment as often as I would like, but I love my experience when I do have the chance to have them.

Even if I didn’t believe in the internal physical benefits of reflexology, how nice does it feel to have a foot massage?!  And, with the amount of running I (typically) do, my feet can always use a little TLC.

I just thought it was important to point out that taking care of the ONE BODY you have been given includes so many other things besides diet and exercise.  I will talk about other self-care ideas as future weeks unfold.

Any physical self-care techniques you use or are particularly interested in hearing about?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mastering Mind: Attitude Switch

Several months ago, I was struggling to find job motivation.  My client load was less than ideal, the drive was taxing and the staff was changing, so things felt unstable. I didn’t want to go in.  I didn’t want to do anything extra.  I just wanted clients to appear without me doing any work to gain them. 

I slowly began to realize that maybe I was the problem and not all the environmental factors I kept blaming.  Why would a potential (or existing) client want to come and utilize my services, if even I didn’t want to be there?

As I stepped back and evaluated all of these things, I realized I had control of two very basic, but incredibly powerful things; my attitude and qualities as a therapist. 

So I changed the internal monologue that went on in my head.  Instead of being upset about driving in for just one client, I would be thankful, because one was better than none.  Instead of focusing on giving up my Saturdays, I focused on how many people went without therapy services because most counselors are unavailable on weekends.

Then, I shifted my focus to being the best therapist I can be to my existing clients.  This isn’t to say that I was being neglectful before this realization, but I promptly stepped up my game. I was reading more books, looking at more resources, seeking more supervision and consultation.  Through all of this, I realized these clients were going to be my best advertisement.  If they liked the services they were receiving, hopefully they would tell others.

These tricks worked; I gained more clients and got my first ever direct referral from a previous client!

Sometimes solving the seemingly impossible challenges, is just as simple as changing your perspective, changing your mind to see and act differently and switching up your attitude about the scenario.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mastering Spirit: I am Getting Confirmed

My history with my Catholic faith is long and involves many twists and turns.  I’ll spare you most of the details, except for those pertaining to the sacrament of Confirmation.

As a freshmen in high school, I began the journey towards getting confirmed, by attending weekly Religious Education classes.  At that point in my faith development, I was sort of blindly doing what my parents told me do.  They weren’t forceful, we were all just following the “rules” and not really asking why.

Sophomore year things changed.  Marching band practice conflicted with my Religious Education schedule.  At that time, I had aspirations to be a band teacher, so the decision was made to discontinue Religious Education and not get confirmed.

I didn’t become a band teacher and my lack of confirmation commitment did not bother me for many years.  Cut to present day, or 2011, more accurately, when the Pilot and I were preparing for our marriage.  During that year, my Catholic faith continued to grow and my beliefs strengthened, so as I prepared for the sacrament of Marriage, I started to feel as though, I missed a step.

Luckily, my church offers an adult Confirmation class, for those of us who have received the sacraments prior to Confirmation, therefore making RCIA incredibly redundant.  I had the best intentions at the start of 2012 to participate in that class and be Confirmed last year, but an old pattern resurfaced and a work commitment conflicted with the class schedule and I chose work over Confirmation.

This year it became a true priority because I hope the Pilot and I start a family in the future and I would like to be Confirmed before I Baptize my future children.  I also like that I am truly making this decision as an informed adult, instead of a teenager doing what her parents ask her to do.  To me that makes this process so much more meaningful and spiritually driven.

I am committed to it now and changed my work schedule accordingly.  I have been to 3 classes and will be Confirmed in April!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mastering Body: Don’t Think About Running

So, recently I went on a run.  It was nothing special.  The weather in Chicago was warm enough for me to run outside, so I headed out.  There was no real goal in mind, as I’m not currently training for anything. I decided I would do somewhere between 3 and 4 miles.

Off I went and the first 2 miles were fabulous!  I was thinking about work projects.  I was thinking about future blog posts.  I was thinking about missing my husband.  I was thinking about my recent personal losses.  I was thinking about my birthday.  Basically, I was thinking about everything except running.

Then at mile 2, I returned my attention to the job at hand.  “One foot in front of the other.  Your slowing down, pick up the pace.  Don’t trip on the rock.  Man I really hate it when people pull there cars into the pedestrian lane. Oh no, 2 more miles to go.”  All I was thinking about was running, how awful it was, how much work it was, how I felt forced to be doing it, how I’m not “good” at it, etc.  And that mile ended up being my slowest mile of the run.

Towards the end of mile 2, crossing over into mile 3, I realized what I was doing and managed to shift my focus.  I moved on to things that inspire me and the reasons I chose to run, instead of focusing on the running itself. 

I discovered that the trick to successful running, is to not think about running.  I’ve always heard that people run to clear their heads, but I’ve never put that idea into practice until that day.  And look at this, because I was focusing on blogging, I knew exactly what to write for today’s Mastering Body post.

Thank you Nike.  Don’t think about it.  JUST DO IT.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mastering Mind: My Birthday

Today is my 29th birthday.  To be perfectly honest, I’m feeling very apathetic about the whole thing.  I think I’m getting to that stage in life where it’s just another day.  Just another year.

I can think of several reasons why I might have cultivated this blasé attitude this year; my husband isn’t here to celebrate with me, I’ve been consumed with so much sadness, I’m having a hard time celebrating anything, I was away for a long weekend in January and spent so much time planning that, that I didn’t really plan for my birthday, it’s not a milestone birthday.

But as I write this, the real reason is surfacing and it’s because over the last few years my birthday has been clouded by bad events.  Unconsciously, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  So, what does all this have to do with Mastering my Mind this week?

Well, this year I am going to actively change my mind.  Change my outlook.  Change my expectations.  And, how, you ask, will I do that?  A Gong Bath, of course!!

When the e-mail appeared in my inbox that this Gong Bath was occurring, I knew immediately what I wanted to do to celebrate my birthday and enter into the next year of my life!

Today I will mindfully set an intention for the Gong Bath and my this next year.  Tonight, I will lay down in Shavasana for 90 beautiful minutes and let the sounds and vibrations of the gong and the Starnes Sisters voices wash over me, heal me and reinvigorate me for my year ahead.

*If I peaked your interest, more information about Gong Baths can be found here.*

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mastering Spirit: The Hard Lesson in Death

Since Christmas Day, death has spiraled around me.  Six people once removed from me have died;  a client’s mom, friend’s boyfriend’s grandfather, husband’s great-aunt, etc.  The news started slowly at first, the day after Christmas, and then picked up speed 20 days later, peaking last Thursday.

My husband is away for 3 weeks (the subject of another post, I’m sure), so last Thursday I was tasked with going to his Great-Aunt’s visitation on my own.  Her death was only made bearable because she had lived 92 amazing years on this earth and had spent the last week in Hospice, so her passing wasn’t a surprise.  Still, going to the visitation was a difficult and uncomfortable thing for me to do; talking to family members I barely know, offering condolences about a woman I’ve only met once, driving 75 minutes to the middle of no where in the dark. 

Then, Thursday became even more difficult, when the friend of a friend called to inform me that our mutual friend’s father had died unexpectedly at the age of 63.  This piece of news, this death, was my breaking point.  It shook me to the core.  The similarities between her father and my own Dad are countless and now my dear friend was living out my worst nightmare.

I started questioning what sort of message I was supposed to be getting from all these deaths.  Was there a lesson?  Or is 2013 just meant to be a shitty year?  I knew all the logical answers; talk to my Dad and Mom about their health, take care of my own health (eat right, exercise, sleep more, drink less), drive safely, tell people important to me that I love them, but I couldn’t help but think there was more to it…

I got my answer on Monday morning at my friend’s father’s funeral (also attended without the loving support of my husband) with the Gospel reading, John 14:1-6:

“Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not, would I have told you
  that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
  I will come back again and take you to myself,
  so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”

Thomas said to him,
  “Master, we do not know where you are going;
  how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him,
  “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Death is sorrowful, but faith is strong.  I have to believe that these people are in a better place. 

My lesson is this; I am choosing to let these deaths strengthen my faith, when I believe most people (even me in the past) would begin questioning theirs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mastering Mind, Body & Spirit: September Success

Ok, enough.  It’s January.  I had planned on writing all about my September successes in October.  Obviously, that worked out well Winking smile

The worst part about not writing about my September success, is that I have so many other things I want to be writing about.  But, because of some extreme personal insecurities, I refuse to log on to the blog.  Looking at the blog, reminds me of writing failures and commitment inconsistencies.

However, today, I am exercising a different attitude.  So what if I’ve been writing inconsistently for months and years?  I can start again today.  I can just get up and keep trying. 

But before I get up and try again, I am going to very quickly and very succinctly close out the September Success series.  So without all the background and dramatic details, here are the two amazing things I accomplished in September 2012:

  • I got licensed in the state of Illinois as a Licensed Professional Counselor
  • I ran my first marathon in 4:45:02