Posts Tagged With: Exercise

Reload and React

Reload

Many days and many times I run out of energy. I am made of energy and everything I do requires energy –  energy to move, energy to dig in, energy to keep going, energy to talk, energy to feel, energy to stay positive, energy to work, energy to play, etc.  ON the downside, it also takes energy to cry, energy to hurt, energy to worry, energy to stress, energy to fret, and energy to be angry.

Energy is the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity. Motivation is stored positive energy. Inspiration is the birth of energy. Isolation is my way to protect my energy. Procrastination is the reluctance to expel or use energy.  It’s the source of my vitality, it what animates my life, it’s what fuels my passions, stirs the fires within my soul, it strengthens my desires, is the source of my strength and stamina.  It’s another name for drive-desire-determination.

So what happens when I am empty? When I’ve made decisions in my life that expel and use more energy than I produce and store?  My gas tank runs dry, my guns have no ammunition, and my reserves are empty.

Life is about balance.  ALWAYS balance.  If I want something different to happen in my life, I have to do something different.  If I want to use energy, I must learn to store and build the same amount of energy. But often I’m unbalanced, using more than I stored, burning my gears, becoming exhausted.

Love is energy, but that too has to be in balance. If I love more than the amount of love I receive, I’m unbalanced and will burn out.  If I receive more love than I give, I’ll become complacent and take advantage and become dependent on its source.  But, then what happens when that love disappears from my life because it’s been exhausted? Will I have anything stored?

That’s not how energy works.  That’s not how love works. Neither has a shelf life. It’s a force that needs constant motion or movement, it’s always building or breaking, growing or dying.  The more I pour in, the faster and harder I can go – in the present. I can’t store it in now and expect to use it in 20 years. Stored energy needs to be used quickly and soon. Stored love is to be used in the present.

At some point I have to learn to pour in, to build, to store at the same time, and with the same measure I’m using and consuming. I want energy in my body, so I make decisions in my life that help me build energy on a daily basis to balance out my daily workout routines that require a lot of energy, especially this new routine my boyfriend created for me. I want to be productive at work every day, so I have to make sure I get rest the night before – every day.  If I don’t build and store every day, I won’t be able to work out every day.  If I don’t work out every day, I won’t get the results I need. If I fall asleep at work every day, I will eventually lose that job.

So, don’t forget to reload – everything you will need – every day. But don’t just reload.  Once you’ve got your daily dose, REACT – use the energy you’ve built for the thing you’ve built it for.  Don’t look at me like you don’t know what I’m saying. Some of you just realized you don’t have, or you can’t, or you stopped, or you failed …because you haven’t been reloading your reserves. You’ve been wondering why there’s some emptiness in your life or why something isn’t working. You won’t get to the gym diligently everyday if you’re not being just as diligent in your diet and sleep – everyday. If you’re not loving, respecting, appreciating others, then don’t fucking expect it in return. It’s insane to expect something for nothing, yet we live in a society that believes in that fairy tale. I see it every day. People want healthy fit bodies AND eat pizza while sitting on their asses all day playing video games.  They want money, but not the job required to earn it. If you want energy, build energy.  If you want POSITIVE energy, then put Positive measures into place and be positive, even when the rest of the world is a bitter asshole.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whatever It Takes

whatever-it-takes

 

How many of us say this, and convince ourselves we believe it, but don’t do it?  Will I really do ‘whatever’ it takes?  How about when it gets hard? When no one else believes and supports me? When there’s no reward? No accolades? When it hurts? When it costs? When it requires me to give up someone or something else I love? When it doesn’t match my dreams or imagination?

Right now I’ve been doing this new workout program my boyfriend created for me. I suffer. It hurts me. It pushes me. I have to fight the fifty excuses screaming at me every morning, telling me to go back to bed, taunting me that it isn’t working, I’m wasting my time.  Yes, knowing I’m about to go suffer, I get up, put on my gym clothes, tie my hair in a ponytail, and then drive to the gym.  EVERY exercise hurts, and then the last of each set where I have to take myself to muscle failure – makes me want to throw up. But, I do WHATEVER it takes. I quit focusing on the pain I’m feeling and KNOW I’m going to feel throughout the day and then what I’m going to feel through the night and tomorrow, and focus on the next success.

Do I love to suffer or feel pain? Hell NO!  But, what I do love more than the pain and suffering is being strong, healthy, and active.  I’m 48. My body is ready to start resting, slow down, take it easy – but I’m not.  I’ve got too many dreams, too many things I still have yet to do.

I got pissed off and frustrated the other day because I wasn’t strong enough to carry my kayak on my own.  I’m going to fix that problem, watch me. I’ll do whatever it takes. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m thinking about it. I love to kayak, I have a kayak, I have an SUV to carry my kayak, and I am not going to let being small and weak stop me from enjoying something I love to do. And I refuse to depend on someone else to do it.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone else is around, I’ll gladly and appreciatively use their help, but I’m not going to let the lack of help being available stop me.

I made a promise to myself a few years ago I wasn’t going to let the actions or inactions of others stop me anymore for doing what I want and love. I spent more than 20 years practically begging to go to the Grand Canyon. We had the means, time, and opportunity, but no one else wanted to go, so I allowed my dream to be put on the back burner with an empty promise of the next year – that never came.  So, I made a vow to myself to not let other’s stop me from doing what I want anymore. I still haven’t made it to the Grand Canyon, but believe me – It’s in the planning stage. As soon as I have vacation time – I’m going to see that big hole in the ground, even if I have to go alone. I’ll do WHATEVER IT TAKES. I’m going to find a way to load and unload my kayak ON MY OWN – whatever it takes.

In my writing – I do whatever it takes. Writing is hard, it takes devotion, time, patience, bleeding your soul onto the page …and if I want publication – more hard work, being “on” in order to market, promote, engage, sitting at hot festivals, sitting on panels with a bunch of snobbish people, wearing thick skin from the opinionated bad reviews or advice from everyone in or outside the business who thinks they can write your stuff better than you.  Dealing with people …sigh.  BUT, I LOVE writing, it’s as much a part of me as breathing so when I set my mind to a project – I’ll do whatever it takes to see it fly onto the page and then out into the universe. I’m not going to let those things or people stop me.

In work, in relationships, paying my bills, providing for myself, life in general … I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ve only got me. I have people in my life who care about me, but I, ALONE, am responsible for myself.  I’m an independent single woman. I don’t have a husband to share the burdens of this life. My kids are grown and they have themselves to care for, and it’s not their job to take care of me. I have no parents. So, I must do whatever it takes. So, watch me do just that.

Till next time

Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Dream, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Independence, Inspirational, Life, love, Relationships, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Quit Never Surrender

Never Surrender

 

I’d love to say that I’ve never quit anything, succeeded at everything I’ve set my mind to accomplish, but that would be a lie. I have quit. I have ran away. I’ve turned my back on a dream, on people, and even on life at times. I know how to quit. But, I also know the cost of quitting and it’s a lot more than what have cost me to dig in and keep going. I’m not just talking about the good things I’ve quit, but the bad as well.  I’ve quit smoking, I’ve quit bad relationships, and I’ve quit bad eating and exercising habits. Those choices may have been for my good, but they are under the category of quit.

So, to say “Never Quit” is to set a false expectation, a false reality, because there are times I will need to quit, there are things I will need to quit in order to succeed, in order to move forward, in order to protect and thrive. But what do I replace it with, because the sentiment is the same for those things I do want to achieve, I do want to succeed, and I want to conquer, because in order to do so I have to have this ‘never quit’ attitude or else I fail when it gets hard. Anything of value is going to get hard, guaranteed. What is the true war cry, what is the true sentiment, what truth can I grab hold of with both hands to be my strength and my shield as I go through my challenge?

Perhaps, “Never Surrender” is the better sentiment.  To surrender, means to concede, yield, capitulate, give in or give up, to relinquish control, to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.

I have goals, dreams, and objectives to complete in this life – and they’re hard. My workout this morning is hard. My job is hard. Survival is hard. Trying to maintain a healthy balance of everything is hard.  Each of those goals and objectives has an opponent, an adversary, an enemy, and I must maintain control of my objective despite those difficulties. I cannot surrender or else I will lose everything I’ve worked for so far.

I made a meme this morning that hit my soul – that gave me that little extra boost to stay faithful and strong to my dreams. It says, “If you quit now …you’ll end up right back where you first began. And when you first began, you were desperate to be right where you are now.  See how far you’ve come? Keep going. Don’t Stop. Don’t Surrender. It’s in this moment, with this decision, that will determine if you fail or succeed …until the next moment when you must face the decision all over again.”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, love, Musing., Quotes, relationship, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pushing Through the Pain

Never Quit.jpg

 

I want to give up – EVERY DAY.  Not every once in a while, but every single day, sometimes even more than once a day.  Every time my back hurts, my legs hurt, my butt hurts, or my arms hurt, I want to nurse it, massage it, heal it, and make the pain go away.  But, I push through the pain because I want MORE what’s on the other side of the pain than just the release of it. There’s no magic pill.

I want to give up – EVERY DAY. Not every once in a while, but every single day, sometimes even more than once a day.  Every time my heart hurts, I feel unloved, unwanted, lonely, or forgotten, I want to feel loved, wanted, appreciated, and make the pain go away. But, I push through the pain because I want MORE of what’s on the other side of the pain than just the release of it. There’s no magic wand.

I want to give up – EVERY DAY.  Not every once in a while, but every single day, sometimes even more than once a day.  Every time I hear about another senseless death, injustice, abuse, and the evil of humanity, I want to save the world and make the pain go away.  But I push through the pain because I want MORE of what’s on the other side of the pain than just the release of it. There’s no magic wish.

Pain hurts.  It sucks.  I don’t enjoy pain, but I don’t fear it, I don’t let it paralyze me, and I don’t allow it to stop me. I’ve learned that the best things this life has to offer are most often found on the OTHER side of pain. It’s found in the healing, in the compassion, in the overcoming, in the accomplishment, in completing the task, in the rescue, in the mercy, in the victory, in the results, in the kiss, wrapped in the arms of love, in tangled legs, in silly giggles, in making a difference, in having a purpose, and in taking a stand. Have no regrets.

The things that make life worth living are ALWAYS on the other side of pain, so we have to push through it and NEVER GIVE UP.  We have to make that decision EVERY DAY.  Not every once in a while, but every single day, sometimes more than once a day …as many as it takes.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, Musing, Musing., Musings, Philosophy, Poetry, Quotes, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 For The Core

4 For The Core

With reaching the 90lb loss benchmark of my 17-month get healthy journey, it’s again time to change my routine.  I believe that’s been one of the biggest keys to my continued success.  I like routine, but routine can become uninspiring and boring, causing me to lose interest.  Being healthy and active should never become boring – much like a relationship and requires constant work.  But it’s not going to change by itself.  It will take just as much dedication and determination from you in the middle of the journey as it did at the start.  There is no end, so don’t set one.  This isn’t a temporary fix – it’s a lifestyle, something that will carry you through until the day you no longer care about your health.  This is a battle of the mind.  You have to decide that you’re going to fight it to the end, never giving up, never surrendering.  If not, you’re wasting your time.

 

Do What's Best for Yourself

 

Routine also causes your body to hit plateaus, because it gets used to the effort you’re putting into changing it.  It doesn’t want to work.  It doesn’t want to change. It doesn’t like to be pushed, denied, stretched, exhausted, or exercised, and will fight you. It would rather be pampered and lazy. However, it can come to love the benefits and rewards of a good workout.  It will walk straighter with pride and confidence as it gets healthier, stronger, and sexier.  It will reward you with a rush of endorphins and pleasure.  Greater activities become possible and making love becomes so much more fun because you’ll have more stamina, strength and sexiness.


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Speaking of sexy, and totally getting back on my initial topic of changing up my routine, I asked my good friend, Sergeant T. Emilio Solano – Army Drill Sergeant at Fort Benning to recommend a good workout to target my middle and lower body specifically.  He recommended 4 for the Core + a 1-minute plank.

 

Wow! Ouch! Umph! … Whew! These may seem like simple moves, but they’re not!!!!  Within 15-20 seconds of the first routine, my muscles began to shake from strain.  I wasn’t able to hold each position for the full minute as required, but I’ll keep it up until I can.  I made it on average about 15-30 seconds for each one.  I repeated the process twice, but I’d like to be able to hold the positions correctly for the full minute each. I broke more of a sweat with these five moves than I do when I run a mile. I now have a new goal.

2014-05-17 15.06.38

Thank you, Sergeant Solano!

 

I’ve included a video below for those of you brave enough to try this on your own.  Take control of your body. Take control of your health.  Take control of your life.  When it gets hard, tell yourself you deserve to be happy, healthy and sexy as hell.

 

 

 

http://www.armyprt.com/special_conditioning_programs/4-for-the-core.shtml 

Army Physical Readiness Training: 4 For The Core

 

The abdomen, lower spine, and pelvis comprise the trunk (core) of the body. This area must be stable so the limbs have a fixed base from which to create powerful movements. The abdominal and back muscles form a supportive ring around the spine. Soldiers are only as strong as their weakest link; so all these muscles must be trained in a manner that mimics their function. In reconditioning, 4C and HSD are performed daily before engaging in other PRT activities. During the toughening phase, 4C is performed after preparation and prior to strength and mobility activities. Four for the core may also be performed outside regular PRT sessions as   supplemental training. Do not exceed 60 seconds for each 4C exercise. The following commands are used for 4C exercises.

 

Exercises 1 and 3 (bent leg raise and back bridge):

  • Starting Position, MOVE.
  • Ready, EXERCISE.
  • Starting Position, MOVE.
  • Position of Attention, MOVE.

 

Exercises 2 and 4 (side bridge and quadraplex) are both performed on the right and left sides. The commands for execution for this exercise and changing sides are as follows:

  • Starting Position, MOVE.
  • Ready, EXERCISE.
  • Starting Position, MOVE.
  • Change Position, Ready EXERCISE.
  • Starting Position, MOVE.
  • Position of Attention, MOVE.

 

The goal is to hold each exercise position for 60 seconds. If the Soldier is unable to do this, he will follow the instructions for each exercise to momentarily change position and return to the prescribed exercise position. Detailed descriptions of each 4C exercise follows.

From: FM 7-22 October 2012    (Page last modified Feb 1, 2013)
Related links

Don’t give up.  You can do this.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

http://www.tlgray.blogspot.com

http://www.authortlgray.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/authortlgray

 

 

Categories: Health & Fitness, Inspirational, Instructional, Musing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Up! Go On!

Get Up

 

Okay, it’s the middle of February and we’re approaching the biggest point where most people who set new goals for themselves at New Year’s usually falter and fall right back into their bad, unhealthy habitual routines.  But, don’t give up.  Get up.  Speed it up.  Dig in a little deeper, because you’re about to hit to a good milestone, reach a transformational point, and see some progress.

Diet and exercise require a lifestyle change to be effective, period.  Temporary practice only produces temporary results. In the same manner it took to develop the unfit and unhealthy habits, so too will it take just as long to create new ones. It can be done.  It can be accomplished.  You can change your life.

I don’t diet and exercise anymore.  I did when I started out, because essentially both required a major shift in my normal practices, the biggest being my mindset.  I now live more active and healthy.  When it comes to food, I used be concerned about calories and fat content, but now I concentrate on taste, convenience, cost, and enjoyment.  I no longer look at my ‘diet’ as being filled with foods I can’t eat, but turn my focus to those varied healthier choices and consider ways to make them tastier and artistic.  I don’t look at exercise as something that I have to do if I’m going to lose weight.  I hardly weigh anymore, because I’m reaching the point where my weight doesn’t matter as much as my strength and ability to participate in various activities. I now seek out adventures that are exciting, thrilling, and less inhibited because I’m healthier and more energetic.

But, I didn’t get this way by some miracle pill, divine miracle, extreme surgery, magic shake, or expensive training.  I’ve lost more than 80lbs this last year, built up my lungs and muscle activity to run a mile, and took up the art of gourmet cooking through a lot of hard work and determination.  Every time I thought of quitting and returning back to what was easy and comfortable, I’d think about all those things I was too unhealthy to do, how I felt about myself, and how much my friends and family worried about me and my health, and then I would push myself a little bit harder.

Yes, it hurts.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, at times it feels like that next goal is just always right out of reach.  Yes, you will have weak moments.  Yes, you will stumble at times.  But – YES, you can do it. Yes, you can get up.

Encourage one another.  If you have a friend or family member that you know who has set a goal for themselves to get their bodies healthier by eating better and exercising, please be a cheerleader for them and let them know how proud you are that they’re taking a stand for their life.  Help them, don’t tempt them.  Send them a note of encouragement and celebrate with them even the tiniest of accomplishments.  A long line of tiny accomplishments make up major achievements. I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for a few of my friends who constantly pushed me, encouraged me, and celebrated my achievements with me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

Categories: Blog Post, Health & Fitness, Inspirational, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Your Body

love-your-body

It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in right now, learn to love your body.  Just as it’s important to love your soul in order to love  and treat others with love, you need to love your body so you can learn to treat it right. Here are a few steps I’ve learned recently as I go through this new phase of my life that has led to my body becoming more fit, healthier, beautiful, and sexy.

1.  The first step you need to do is forgive yourself for the neglect or abuse you’ve put your body through in the past.  The past is the past.  You can’t change it.  Face it honestly and then get over it. We’ve all abused ourselves in one way or the other.  While most of us could never even fathom the thought of neglecting and hurting someone else, we often don’t give a second thought to the way we treat ourselves.  I’ve experienced all extremes   -from harsh rigorous training, pushing it to it’s limits, to smoking, over-eating, neglect, lack of exercise, neglect, often hating it.  If we don’t treat our own selves, our bodies, right, then we can’t complain when it fights back

2.  The next step you need to do is respect yourself.  Your body is yours, you have control,  so value it.  It’s precious.  MAKE TIME to treat it right.  Do what’s best for it.  Protect it. Don’t share it with someone who doesn’t deserve it. Don’t waste your time with people who don’t respect, inspire, encourage,or respect you.  Don’t neglect to share it with those who do.  Respect leads to confidence and confidence is the sexiest trait a person can have.

3.  The last step you need to do is celebrate yourself.  Set definitive goals and then celebrate your achievements.  Humbleness is sweet, but it doesn’t build confidence.  When you fulfill a goal, brag about it.  The only way you’re going to appreciate yourself is to realize how great you are, and you won’t know how great you are if you never celebrate your achievements.  Start out small, set some minor milestones and start celebrating when you reach them.  As a society we are so easy to criticize, but slow to praise.  I’ve learned being positive, proud and excited is infectious. When I smile, I often receive a smile in response.  When I laugh, it draws attention and people want to be around me.  When I praise my efforts and get excited about my goals and activities, I inspire others to join me.

The better your body feels, the healthier it is, the prettier, sexier, happier, and lovelier you feel. If you don’t take care and love yourself, you can’t expect someone else to do it for you. It doesn’t matter your imperfections, because we all have them, when you love, forgive, respect and celebrate yourself –you will be beautiful.

Here’s a few ideas: Exercise, ride a bike, hula hoop, eat healthy, dance, get outside, make love, wear flattering clothes, dress up, get plenty of sleep, take vitamins, treat it occasionally to an indulgence, do something new and often,  and tell it everyday it’s beautiful and you love it no matter what – and watch it come alive.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

My new goal today is learn to dance like Shakira in this video, Hips Don’t Lie.  It looks fun, sexy, and a source of great exercise.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Health & Fitness, Inspirational, Musing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up) – Fall Out Boy

My Song Knows - Fall Out Boys

 

 

“My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”

youtu.be/LkIWmsP3c_s

Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.

B-B-B-Be careful making wishes in the dark, dark
Can’t be sure when they’ve hit their mark
And besides in the mean, mean time
I’m just dreaming of tearing you apart

I’m in the de-details with the devil
So now the world can never get me on my level
I just gotta get you off the cage
I’m a young lover’s rage
Gonna need a spark to ignite

My songs know what you did in the dark

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
I’m on fire

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
I’m on fire

Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
In the dark, dark
Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
In the dark, dark

Writers keep writing what they write
Somewhere another pretty vein just died
I’ve got the scars from tomorrow and I wish you could see
That you’re the antidote to everything except for me, me

A constellation of tears on your lashes
Burn everything you love, then burn the ashes
In the end everything collides
My childhood spat back out the monster that you see

My songs know what you did in the dark

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
I’m on fire

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
I’m on fire

Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
In the dark, dark
Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
In the dark, dark

My songs know what you did in the dark
(My songs know what you did in the dark)

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
I’m on fire

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
I’m on fire

Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
In the dark, dark
Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.
In the dark, dark

Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa.

Image: b.vimeocdn.com/ts/434/934/434934876_640.jpg

Man, I really, really love the beat and the passion of this song. It’s perfect for a good work out or run, steady and upbeat.
Yeah, that’s me … that girl in the gym or on the trail singing out loud to ear phones as she’s running or working out.

I don’t care. I can sing pretty good and I’m pretty sure most of the time in key – because I usually sing most of the song a’cappella.
I sing out ballads too. I also sing in the car and don’t stop when I’m at a stop sign or red light and others look over. I can’t let someone else mess up a good part in the song. I’m just not the type to stop what I’m doing because it may embarrass or make others feel uncomfortable. I am who I am. You either love me just like I am, or you can walk off and talk about the crazy girl. It makes no difference to me, because I’m the same always. You’ll know what I do in the dark …the same thing I do in the daylight. I don’t have anything to hide. I’m not ashamed. I’m just me.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray
http://www.tlgray.blogspot.com
http://www.authortlgray.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorTLGray
twitter.com/AuthorTLGray

+Fall-Out-Boys
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www.bubblews.com/news/1292988-being-hindered

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Being Okay on a Monday

Image

I’ve got a lot of thoughts running around in my mind this morning.  I actually slept well last night, only waking once, but able to almost immediately fall back to sleep.  My slumber lately has been sporadic, in two and three-hour increments, the result leaving me in a sort of drudge.  So, this morning, having received at least two three-hour deep sleep sessions, I’m refreshed, renewed and regenerated.  Someone wished that for me yesterday.  I can’t remember right off the top of my head who that was, but I so appreciate their wishes.

Knots of tension have built in my shoulders, but I’m hoping I can work them out this week, and keep them off.  I’ve got a two-day festival coming up this weekend and I’d really like to be on my game.  I want to meet readers with a positive energy, not a tired, worried, and stressed out countenance.  They deserve better than that from me.

I’m also happy this morning, because I’ve reached a major goal.  Last year was a stressful and successful year for me. It was filled with many, many major accomplishments and failures.  I had two novels published and I went on a whirl-wind yearlong book tour and it was amazing.  My book sales had never been better, and it looked like my career was finally taking off.  But amid all that joy I saw the dissolution of a 20-year marriage, felt the separation of my children becoming adults, faced the start of menopause, experienced the loss of some close friends, and struggled with a serious crisis of faith.  Over the past two years I’ve gained a lot of weight nearly 100lbs.  It built so gradually, yet consistently.  I just got into a funk of saying, “I’ll work on it later.”  Then when I would get those bursts of desire to do something about my health, some crisis would happen and delay or roadblock my efforts.   Though I wasn’t gorging or purging, I was nursing my broken heart by not fighting, feeling defeated, like a failure, really almost to the point of giving up on everything, even living.  There were many days I just literally wanted to die because facing the day was too hard.  Well, this manifested in my body.  But, my spirit inside wouldn’t let me give up.  Though my world crumbled around me, and everything I knew and was familiar disappeared, along with my sense of security and stability, I was stripped down to nothing but love.  I realized I loved me and I deserved to live, deserved to love, deserved to be happy, deserved to be free, deserved to fly.  So, in the midst of my failure, in the middle of my crisis of faith, I vowed to fight, to live, to love, to pick myself up and take ONE step… just one step every day toward the me I deserved to be.

I’ve taken a LOT of steps since that New Year’s resolution, that promise to myself.  I can’t say that everything has worked out perfectly, or that I’ve conquered every mission in front of me, or that I’ve succeeded in everything.  In honesty, I’ve probably failed more than I’ve succeeded, but I still get up every morning and take ONE more step.  My life is changing.  I’m reaching small goals and getting closer to bigger ones.  I can feel myself on the edge of this darkness and know I’m getting closer to the light, closer to a breakthrough.  I’m still scared.  My heart is still very much wounded, but it continues to heal, to beat, and I continue to breathe.  I continue to move forward.

Today, I celebrate a 70 pound weight loss. I didn’t achieve this through dieting; I achieved this through a lot of hard work, sweat, lots of tears, and a change in my lifestyle.  I started to do simple things, small things that made me happy like hiking, walking, running, 5k’s, kayaking, yoga and meditation.  I started blogging, letting my feelings out instead of remaining silent, letting them build until I exploded. I walked away from people that pushed me down, held me back or discouraged me from following my dreams.  I started gathering people who encouraged me, told me what I needed to hear, not empty platitudes or endless hammering about responsibilities and practicalities.  I have developed friendships with people who believe in me, who encourage me to reach for those impossible dreams, who continue to love me in the middle of my chaos.  I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t always feel like I’m a disappointment and a failure for being different.  They don’t expect anything from me, but for me to be me, and that freedom has allowed me to blossom.  I still have problems and a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I know they love me whether I succeed or fail, because they love me – not what I can do for them, or what I can achieve.  I have a guardian angel that’s opened her heart and showed her love by her actions and not her words.  I don’t think she’s ever told me she loves me, but she’s met some of my greatest needs and I’ll never be able to repay her kindness, but I’ll never forget it.

So, this morning is a celebration of appreciation.  My life is turning around.  For the first time in a very, very long time I think I’m going to be okay.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Exercise Your Artistic Craft

Every spring we witness the same trend – Coming out of winter hibernation, a mob hits the streets and the gym, and makes a mad dash to dust off treadmills in an effort to get bodies into a healthy and energized state. They bend, stretch, and push their muscles to physical limitations against natural protests. Yet, only a small portion learn to maintain this physical regiment, with the majority falling by the wayside and back into their unhealthy habits within a few weeks, some as fast as a few hours. However, the small portion that succeeds, are those who enjoy the full fruits of their labors, both physically and mentally. The same concept applies to exercising artistic crafts.

It is insane for a writer, painter, sculptor, actor, musician, etc., to expect to succeed in the arts without exercising their talents. An artist should always seek ways to stretch their abilities, improve their methods, and be in a continual state of learning about all aspects of the business and application of their craft. If minimal effort is applied, minimal effort will be achieved.

Yes, there are those exceptions who find great success with minimal to no effort, just as there are those who were born with excellent physical genes and don’t require much exercise. The truly gifted are oftentimes the laziest, because they haven’t had to persevere or struggle to get what they want. However, they are also the same ones who fail to maintain success through lack of understanding.

So, Artists, exercise your crafts. Learn something new about your gift – how to increase your skill and understanding of how to achieve and maintain success. Cut off the games, close the Facebook and spend a little time today learning at least (1) one new thing that has to do with your art. Then tomorrow, increase that, and so on.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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