I know so many super strict dog owners who always make their dogs walk right by their sides - never walk in front - never stop to sniff (unless released to do so) and only allowed to potty on command. As I walk my little monster I watch him roam with inquisitiveness .... I know he isn't the most behaved little bully ever, but his excitement and joy, in the moment, every single walk, always amazes me and got me to thinking. If only we could be more like dogs?!? Of course there is the good old thought that if we could love like dogs, or be loyal like dogs, but what if we could also be excited about little things like dogs or appreciate the awesomeness we are surrounded by? Dogs aren't in a rush for the next best thing. Dogs take special joy in stopping to smell the roses... And the bushes... The rocks... The tree... The fence... The bark... And the weeds. Dogs don't judge - it's all fun, exciting, beautiful or intriguing to them- ALL of it. Sometimes I think as humans we get so caught up in life, it's almost as if we let life get in our way ... of living. We forget to stop and smell the roses- we forget to appreciate the small things-and we often neglect the nurture our relationships - the most important thing we have Earth.
I'm reading this book, A Purpose Driven Life, and it talks about our ability to love being the single most important task we have on Earth. It suggests the number one way to love and value our relationships is by giving our time .... It says "If you want to know a person's priorities, just look at how they use their time." (pg 128 I book version) How true is this? .. And somewhat scary and sad at the same time. It's funny how far too often I realize I can let a bunch of small, truly unimportant busy work type of tasks fill my time. I think of how many times I don't make time for walking my dog, although that simple act of spending merely 10-15 minutes with him not only makes his day- but always leaves me feeling refreshed and inspired through sharing his joy and excitement. It is a daily reminder to me to remember to truly see the beauty I am surrounded by and appreciate all the wonderful things and people in my life. Yet it often gets put on the back burner for other meaningless tasks. And somehow this same habit transfers into so many other facets of my life like putting off that phone call to mom or dad until next weekend, or pushing back plans with a good friend just 1 more week, taking that well deserved vacation next year, writing that letter never, forgetting to remind a loved one how much I care, and oh so much more. Before you know it life has passed before your eyes, and what was it all for?
The time is now... Not next week- next year- or "when the time is right"... Because the only right time is right now. Walking Mowgli helps me show him that he is special and worth my time, it brings life, joy, sunshine and the smell of roses into his his world, but it is so much more then that. It helps me realign my purpose, it creates space for my daily prayer and communication with God. It reminds me how good we really have it in this world, and allows me to focus on the beauty I am blessed with: the sun- the crisp air-the breeze-the sound of the wind in trees- the clouds-the flowers- a happy puppy - and sooo much more. And most of all it is one step toward remembering to live in the moment, honor my relationships, and appreciate life now - as it is- not later for what it will be.
About a month ago I started reading the book A Purpose Driven Life. This book is designed to help one determine his/her God given purpose. In my past I have underwent several exercises to attempt to determine this, and always found myself still confused. I think that I have always been super focused on a really narrow mindset of what this should look like, therefore, inhibiting myself to see the truth. I expected a super specific purpose (as in the specific industry I am supposed to be in - what exactly I am supposed to be doing) .... As I have approached each chapter of the book, I eagerly awaited these mysterious and seemingly magical answers.
Then, as I was driving to church last Sunday it hit me. I had this sudden lightbulb shine brighter then ever, an epiphany, if you will. It isn’t about the specifics at all, and as much as I enjoy this book, and fully plan to complete the 40 day challenge, I already know what my purpose is, and I realize that I have always known. It is simply something I have longed to do my whole life for people, because in the moments that I am doing it, it feels so natural, so right, so perfect. It completes me and fills my heart with joy. It all makes sense now... and at the end of the day I don’t think it truly matters what outlet I use to live out my purpose - so long as it continues to bring me joy and those around me. As I have been learning in the book, to be authentic and use my natural gifts is a form of worship and what God wants from us.
So, what is this purpose? SERVICE. That simple - to be of service - to provide service - to do - to give my time, my love, and my hands through my heart - allowing God to work through me to give to other people using my talents. And,I have done this in every job or career I have ever had. Whether it was as a waitress, a banker, in finance, insurance, or health & fitness. I put my heart into everything I do that is service oriented. My focus is always providing a “wow” experience. In my personal relationships I thrive on providing service. It is so natural - it has always been my way to show someone how I feel -that I care. I love the feeling of making something else feel so incredibly special and important. I love the feeling of nurturing someone and filling up his/her cup. I love to do things for people and bring them joy. Until this precise moment on a normal Sunday afternoon, I just never realized how incredibly simple a purpose could be - yet still profound. I spent the better part of my life searching for something outside of myself - when all along it was inside me - and shining through.
I still struggle with the desire to know the specific outlet that I am destined to live out this purpose in - and the best way to make a career out of service. Is it fitness? Nutritional support? Or is it something totally different? As my passion is truly health & fitness it makes sense that it would be through this realm. However, I believe that it is also important that I continue to serve each person in every interpersonal relationship I have for the rest of my life on Earth with every chance I get.
Part of my daily prayer is to ask God to consume me with his love so that I can live a life of service through love. So I can be love. I don’t want to serve to receive. I don’t want to serve to shine. I don’t want to serve to be special. I don’t want to serve selectively or when it is convenient for me. I simply want to be love (as a verb) and through this immense love acts of service flow naturally, simply living in God’s plan. All of this is, of course, is easy to say, harder to do. I know I still find myself frustrated at times, feeling overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, fatigued, exhausted, under appreciated, and so on.... I have a moment where I want to withdrawal, walk away, quit something... but the amazing thing is through my daily prayer I always find the ability to step back, reassess, remind myself what it is truly about and who it is truly for (God), and then develop the strength to carry on.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We were given ONE body.... That’s it... just one... unless of course you believe in reincarnation (of which I don’t). As we age, our body’s age...eventually our body’s die. Therefore, it makes NO sense to me why we would want to show our body anything less then respect, honor, nurture and love. We only get one chance with it, so why not treat it kindly?
Instead, we spend a lifetime rejecting our body, finding & focusing on our perceived flaws of our body, punishing our body, and hating it. How sad is this?
A wise older woman that I respect once said, “sweetie, despite what you think are imperfections, you are young & perfect just the way you are... love it and honor it while it lasts, because it won’t always be there.... And trust me, as a woman, you will ALWAYS have 10 pounds you want to loose, that magic number 10... and you think that you will be happy when you get there - but guess what? Then you will just have 10 more pounds or maybe 3 more % body fat.... you will spend you whole life chasing after something you think will make you happy until one day you look back and realize how sad that was, because you spent all your time seeking something that wasn’t there instead of enjoying exactly what was.” As I quoted in my most recent blog, “love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have” (cited from 1 Corinthians 13: 3-7). Therefore, if we are always fighting our own body for some idea of perfection, we aren’t loving it and honoring it in the now.
What does this mean? What does it mean to respect, honor, nurture, and love our body? I suppose this really means something different for each of us... However, I think it is safe to say that the way most of us treat our body is NOT this way, rather quite opposite...
Does this mean that we should eat whatever we want whenever we want even if we know it is unhealthy & harming us? Does this mean we should just throw in the towel and glue our ass to the couch for the rest of our life, because “hey we are all going to die someday anyways”? What about, drinking in excess weekend in and weekend out because, why not... it’s so much fun - who cares about memories?...
Or does this mean we should OBSESS over every inch of our body and every imperfection (or our ‘idea’ of imperfections, anyhow..comparing ourself to every other person around us - even though they are not us)? Does this mean we should obsess over EVERY single calorie or macronutrient we put into your mouth, and at exactly what time in the day we eat? Does this mean we need to workout until we puke day in and day out? Or how about workout for 21 days in a row, sometimes double days? Does it mean we should keep pushing ourselves even at our own body’s expense - even through injuries - all to burn that extra calorie or shed that extra pound or drop that 1/2 % body fat? Does it mean we should brag about how we never sleep because we are so much cooler then that, and sleep is over rated anyways - who needs it... we will just sleep when we die right?
NO... I don’t think it means ANY of that AT ALL.... It’s funny how, as people, we tend to go from one extreme to another. We start off in that first category - the person on the couch eating some popcorn, ice-cream and a king size snickers bar.... One day we wake up and realize that isn’t the life we want to live... we want to be ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’... so we get off the couch & we start moving... we go full force... extreme is all we know - so we plunge off the deep end into the exact opposite extreme... We work out every day, two times a day, we micromanage every bite we take, we stress constantly because we are miserable because we can no longer find pleasure in food - it is simply a fuel...We get injured, but we keep going because we think we should be better then that - stronger then that - and besides...we have big goals now... We sacrifice sleep for that extra hour of cardio that we absolutely need to burn that fat (that we so badly can’t stand)... We sign up for every possible adrenaline junky obstacle course we can fit into our already crazy busy hectic life...and we can’t forget to run that marathon before we die... even if we suddenly have knee, foot, and hip pain we never had before... It’s ok... just wrap it up... Deal with it tomorrow.
Now I am not saying that all this stuff above isn’t ok... As long as you TRULY are having fun and you are TRULY HAPPY....If everyday you wake up feeling fabulous with a big giant smile on your face, and life is beautiful... and your body feels good, and you sleep well at night, and life isn’t dragging... then more power to ya... keep up the great work! I commend you on all of your hard work, your efforts, and your success... I truly do.
However... if all the above activities sound like your life, but you are miserable, and in stress overload (physically & mentally), if you are often unhappy, tired, irritable, restless, and I’m just going to go out on a limb here... but also more then likely, STILL NOT happy with your body.... then maybe it is time to realign your goals and your strategy to a truly ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’ way of life.
So what if to respect, honor, nurture, and love our body it meant that we were able to look in the mirror and see beyond our ‘idea of our imperfections’... what if we could just find a few things to love and honor everyday so if our mind wanted to go to what wasn’t working, our heart could redirect our focus back to what was working!
What if we respected our body so much that we would naturally choose to eat healthy foods simply because they served us and helped us feel better, not just emotionally, but physically as well. But also, allowing ourselves to simply indulge every now and then with little life pleasures (a glass of wine, a piece of dark chocolate) guilt free. (and NO I don’t mean binging)
What if we honored our body enough to truly listen to it and hear it speak to us. Finding a perfect balance between workouts and recovery, because we were able to hear our body speak and tell us it needed a rest day, which is actually OK?
What if we nurtured it and treated it kindly with natural care such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, or icing, and plenty of sleep every night of the week, recognizing that the extra hour of sleep goes a lot further both physically and emotionally then that hour of cardio our crazy minds so badly trick us into believing we need?
And what if we realized that sometimes in life LESS IS MORE... and we made some of these simple life altering changes (mentally and physically), and suddenly we realized that the quality of our lives have spun around... Our sleep has greatly improved, we find ourselves needing less coffee then ever before, when we hit our workouts we bring amazing intensity because we had a day of rest since our last workout, we feel energized, and we are operating at 100%. We find it so much easier to eat the healthier foods because food & eating becomes fun and delicious, instead of stressful and mundane. Now we also have more energy to spend time with our friends, our spouse, our child, or our pet... because we aren’t stressed, tired, and achey....
... Just, what if ?!?
1 Corinthians 13:3-7
The Message (MSG)
3-7: "If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."
When I read this the other day it really hit home. It is so simple, yet deep & meaningful. I have definitely been in a weird mental space as of late... It is almost as if this is exactly what I needed to read in the perfect moment. In my daily prayers I have been asking God to consume me, to unite with my heart & soul, to work through me, to emit love, to allow me to have the strength to live a life of love, in love. I desire to act out of love in every aspect of my life. Through my career, my relationships with my family & friends, and through even my seemingly small interactions with complete strangers. It’s the collection of small simple acts of kindness that go a long way. It is not only serving those you love & care deeply for, but also serving those in need that you hardly know, simply because you can. It is a life of love, compassion & openness.
I feel that lately I have been struggling to be fully committed to this way of being, and I know that I need so deeply to get back into that space. I feel fulfilled & complete when choosing to live my life through love & service. Love resists negative mindsets & doesn’t allow you to get trapped into unnecessary mind battles. Love doesn’t promote foul thoughts, or an insincere heart. Love isn’t angry, jealous, resentful, or doubtful. Love believes that all is possible. Love encourages growth, it is nurturing. A life of love is contagious.
My favorite line from above is “Love doesn’t want what love doesn’t have” It seems so simple on the surface, but so profound.... If you look at EVERY aspect of life through this lens - how in love & happy would we all be if we weren’t constantly seeking that which we didn’t have? What if instead we shifted our focus to loving what we do have. Does that mean that we settle & never grow or evolve or become more successful? No, quite opposite, as I believe that through focusing on loving what we have, we honor ourselves, our life, appreciate the people in our life, and our current relationships, and through this honor and nurture we allow the growth to naturally unfold. This is just my thought.
Some other points to ponder:
"Love never gives up." ...Even in the face of rejection or failure
"Love cares more for others than for self."...serve those you love
"Love doesn't want what it doesn't have." ...appreciate what is already before you
"Isn't always "me first," ...the world doesn’t revolve around just you, plus put somebody else first & watch how it always comes back around
"Trusts God always," ... Replace worry with prayer
"Always looks for the best," ...never assumes the worst