Tag: stress

I Hate Mondays

Today was a very stressful day.  It started with an early, tired morning and the long drive up to the CFO’s office for work.  I was so tired that I stopped to get gas in my car and made the poor choice of getting a diet coke and a doughnut.  What can I say I had a weak moment!  Then it was a busy day at work printing checks and sorting sales tax returns.   Then there was the drive home and 4 more hours of work (until 8 pm so including driving 12 hour day) because I have to take Friday off for Slam the Dam.

I also finally decided to purchase my bus ticket to Las Vegas for Slam the Dam.   On one hand this excited me but on the other it kind of freaked me out.  It is refundable so if something happens like my illness flairs up I can get out of it but it just felt like a large commitment in time and money to this race.  I honestly think I would be less stressed out if I hadn’t been sick all of last week and had hardly any training.  Of course, eating a doughnut and not getting a workout today didn’t help my stress levels.

And then as I was absorbing my feelings I realized I think it is just a Monday.  Monday’s are always the most stressful day of the week for me.  Wouldn’t you agree?  There is always so much to be done- especially on a week where I know I am going to be away or busy later in the week.  It puts extra pressure on Monday.  Plus, it just feels like you are never going to finish everything, fit it all in.

Evidently I’m not the only one who feels this way.   I was texting my trainer about the woes of the day and she agreed with me saying ‘I agree with you on today.  It was a MONDAY.  So glad it is over’.  My thoughts exactly.  She also reminded me to ‘stay positive’ and that ‘everything will be great’ (She is the best.  Such a blessing in my life).  The same sentiment was repeated by my Dad, Mom and many of my friends.  It also helped to hear from a couple of my open water swimming friends about their similar anxieties and worries about racing.  It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

When you’ve worked so hard for something you just want to do your best.  You want it to be a success. It is easy to analyze every moment you could have done better (ie huge guilt complex over eating a doughnut. As if that is going to stop me from finishing the race!).

Sometimes I am glad I’m single and someone doesn’t have to put up with my stress-out sessions (my Mondays!).  I’ve gotten better at handling things over the years but I still have those days.

There are even songs written about how Monday stinks:

What do you do to handle stress effectively?  How do you face a week full of busyness without feeling a little nuts?   In other words, how do you deal with your Mondays?

I personally am a big believer in processing your emotions honestly and completely.  Even it if seems dumb like the doughnut worry.  If it is adding stress to my life then it is not dumb.  I take a big breath, maybe shed a tear or two, create a plan and give my self as much positive self-talk as possible.

It also helps to deal with the worst possible outcome of the stressful events- to ask What’s the worst that can happen? Usually once I ask this question I realize I can handle it, even if things don’t go my way.   It’s amazing what a difference these techniques can make in my overall well being.  My pulse goes down (sometimes my sugars will literally go down when I manage my stress) and I physically and spiritually feel at peace.

If you want to read a great book on handling stress, depression and anxiety read David Burns classic on cognitive therapy Feeling Good.  One of my roommates gave it to me and it has truly helped me time and again to create plans for dealing with my emotions.  I think it should be  a part of every person’s personal library. (It is over 700 pages so it is better as a reference then to read outright- although I’m sure that would be very helpful).

Some may think it is strange that I admit to such emotional struggles, but I do so because I think everyone deals with these issues in some form or another.  I also want to be clear that my problems are manageable and certainly not the type of debilitating depression and other mental illness that some people face.  My triggers are of the ordinary, garden variety stressors. Perhaps my strategies can help others in some small way?

Also I must say thank goodness for Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights! If I’m having a bad Monday at least I know somewhere out there a celebrity is having a worse night on the ballroom!

 

A Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

When I was little one of my favorite books was Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.  In the book Alexander has a string of bad luck including such tough events as slipping on his skateboard, being stuck in the back on carpool, losing his best friend, and no desert with lunch.  Alexander wishes he could go to Australia and be rid of his bad day.

The thing I enjoy most about the book is there is no happy ending to the day or ice cream cone to make everything better.  It simply says:

“My mom says days are like that…even in Australia.”

Isn’t it the truth? There are some days that just stink and where everything feels hard.  I think it is great to let kids know they are OK if they have a bad day.

Today was a bad day for me.  It actually started last night where my wicked sinus troubles turned into a full-blown ear infection.  My ears hurt like I was descending on an airplane and they were about to burst.  Luckily I had some old drops from a previous ear infection and that helped alleviate some of the pain.  Nevertheless, it was hard to sleep.

Naturally I woke up cranky and less than rested.  I had such visions for the week.  I was going to train every day and be a wiz in the pool for the upcoming meet on Saturday.  Then the meet was going to propel me towards glory in the Slam the Dam race in Vegas next Saturday.

I was caught up with most work projects and was looking forward to a productive, fulfilling work-week as well as a number of social activities.  Then Saturday, the sore throat came, Sunday the cough and by Monday I was a snot-filled, wheezing machine.

“Take the day off Monday.  You’ll bounce back”.  I said with great optimism.  Now Thursday is fast approaching and no training has been done. I am totally unprepared for the meet on Saturday (if I get to attend at all) and my work-week has been thin at best.  (Let’s just say its a miracle I work from home and have been able to squeeze my hours in. )

I also missed church, FHE, visiting teaching, voice lessons, 3 sessions with various trainers and anything else that would be uplifting or exciting during the week. Most importantly I went without crucial training time that I really needed to be ready for my events.  Instead, I’ve spent the last 5 days sniffling through a box of tissues until my nose is raw and sore and watching Toddlers and Tiaras and wondering ‘why anyone who isn’t sick watches these shows?’

So as you can imagine it was a cranky, sore and stuffy Rachel that went to the doctors this morning and as always they were thoroughly unhealthful, unsympathetic and ponderous but provided me with the most-needed prescriptions.  I was on my way.

This is where I made a fatal error.  Last week I had been to my OBGYN who had given me a medicine that is not covered by insurance.  She recommended I fill the prescription at Costco so I decided to fill all 3 of mine today, including the antibiotic.  After spending over $200 (I always do at Costco! ) and waiting over an hour (20 minutes my foot!) I finally got my prescriptions and $196 later I was out the door.  Did the Costco employees box my stuff up like they usually do?  No.  I had to find boxes myself.

Luckily I had some help loading my car which of course was a block away in the massive Costco parking lot.  By the time I got home I was exhausted but could I rest, no.  I had to lug all of the perishables up to my 2nd story apartment without any assistance (Downside to living alone…).

After 3 trips to the car and back I began to put items in the fridge and freezer.  Unfortunately in my haste to be done I inadvertently left the freezer door open and WHACK!  My head and the door met in a loud crack.  Let’s just say while there may not be a concussion, a goose egg there most definitely will be.  With a slam I packed the rest of the perishables in the door and cried.

I, like Alexander, wonder why does everything have to be so freakin hard? Why can’t I just lose weight like a normal person?  How come Jennifer Hudson can lose 100 lbs in a year and have a baby while I am still 262 with PCOS, pre-diabetes, a painful ear infection and a head that’s throbbing like one of those old Looney Toon cartoons after a character gets hit with an anvil?

I also have no relationship or even a dating life (although how one develops a dating life is beyond me! What does that even mean? Please someone tell me what living in a dating life is like? How does anyone actually get together, and even more so, how do all these plus size girls I know meet people?  I find it so difficult and losing the 50 lbs hasn’t helped one bit. In a way, it is easier to be fat and single because at least they aren’t rejecting me for my personality or so I thought…)

In addition, I’m going through money like it is candy (Whoever said exercise/healthy living is cheap is insane. Since the beginning of August I have spent at least $750 on my 2 trainers, equipment, entry fees, and that doesn’t include my gym membership or medical expenses. Not to mention the added expenses healthy eating adds (most of the time at least)).  I don’t have debt but I never seem to be able to save!

Its like I’m a cliched character at the beginning of a romantic comedy except without the sarcastic best friend or the  boy who secretly likes me but ‘we’re just friends’.

I just want to swim in my race and do my best.  Is that too much to ask?  I’m reminded of one of my favorite books by Norah Ephron called I Feel Bad About My Neck.  In one section entitled Exercise she says:

“I would like to be in shape.  I have a friend who gets up every morning at 5 am and essentially does a triathlon.  I’m not exaggerating. She is Ironwoman…A few summers ago I decided to do some swimming, and within a week I had swimmer’s ear.  Have you ever had it? It’s torture…My own theory about Van Gogh is that he cut off his ear because he’d made the mistake of taking up swimming…”

She goes on

“I myself swing between two universes.  I spend time getting into shape; then something breaks, and then I spend time recovering and then something new breaks.  So far, in the breakage department I have managed the following:  I pulled my lower back doing sit ups; I threw  out my right hip on the treadmill; I got shin splints from jogging and I entirely destroyed my neck just from rolling over in bed. ”

“A few years ago I made the mistake of confusing the movie Chicago with an exercise video.  It was, without question, the greatest exercise video I have ever had.  I could lift weights forever while watching it.  For the first time in my exercising life, I was never bored….But after 3 weeks I woke up one morning in horrible pain and I couldn’t move my arms. ”

“Millions of dollars in doctor’s fees later, it turned out that I had not one but two frozen shoulders, the result of lifting too many weights for far too long.  It took 2 years for those frozen shoulders to mostly thaw, and in the meantime, I had pretty much resigned myself to the prospect of never being able to scratch my own back…But I am now exercising again.  I have a trainer.  I have a treadmill.  I have my TV set over the treadmill.  I exercise almost 4 hours a week and I would rather be in Philadelphia (although not in labor!).”

There is something cathartic about reading her words because while I (knock on wood) am not prone to broken bones, it seems the pantheon of other illnesses is awakened when I set a goal or try to push myself in my training.

When I was in college two of my friends entered the St. George Marathon and upon proudly finishing they had to be sent to the hospital for an IV and treatment.  I always found it such a hollow victory when they would say ‘at least we made it to the end’.

Now I get it.  If I am in that race October 1st and they take me to the hospital after I finish it will be a victory- at least I will have ‘made it to the end’.  All of Satan’s minions could try to keep me from that race, but I will swim if it kills me.  Ok.  Maybe not kill me, but still, I get the victory of their hospital-lain achievement and it’s certainly going to take A LOT for me to give up.

Setting and keeping goals is tough because life gets messy.  People have no idea how hard it is to get into shape and on days like these I wish the ‘fat haters’ could walk in my shoes, and feel how I feel especially when they are prone to criticize the obese and heavy.  It’s really hard and the days of agony far outweigh the days of fulfillment.  That’s the way it is.

As Alexander’s mom says “Some days are like that”…

To having a better day tomorrow, to antibiotics working, and to being able to complete my goals somehow, someway.  Thank you everyone for your friendship, love and prayers.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I am going to watch Survivor and the premieres of Modern Family and The Middle- yeah!  Premiere week! On days like this I love TV!  (Except for Toddlers and Tiara’s- it will only make you feel bad about the world!)

I also understand that in the scope of human travails mine are at the bottom of the totem pole but as my aunt Chris once said in a prayer ‘Our problems are small but they are difficult for us and we need help”.

Vacation Hangover

As much as I love vacation I think I hate the week after a vacation even more. Wouldn’t you agree?  It is so hard to catch up and get back into the swing of things.

This is particularly true with exercising.  I know I should exercise while I vacation but I find that very difficult.  When I go home my mother helps me to get a temporary membership at the gym near their house and that helps a lot.  I don’t really consider going home as going on vacation but it is very nice of her.  There is something about a gym that helps me to work out.  I wish I was the type of person that felt motivated to go for a run and lift weights by myself but I almost never do.

On the plus side, I typically am much more active while on vacation then I am in my normal life.  For instance, during this trip to Washington DC I walked all over the place!  On the down side, I eat worse on vacation, so I think it is at best a wash.

Either way, coming back to real life is hard.   Tuesday was my first day back at the gym, meeting with my triathlon coach Dave.  Boy did he work me hard!   He assigned me a mile swim (1750 meters)  with intervals at 500 m normal pace, 2 25 m sprints, 400 m normal, 2 25 m sprint…all the way down to 100.  It wasn’t my fastest swim but it was one of the toughest.  Plus, I got a flu shot on Monday so my arm was still a little sore (actually the muscle is still a little tender today).

Some people are critical of gyms/trainers but I can tell you I would not have swam or worked out as hard Tuesday without Dave pushing me (I probably would not have worked out at all.  Having an appointment got me in that door, pushing myself hard).  I just wouldn’t have.  I wish I was one of those self-motivated people who would swim miles on my own but I’m not. I need the encouragement and the obligation.

The next 3 weeks are going to be particularly intense because I am trying to get ready for my second race- Slam the Dam- in Las Vegas on October 1st.  It is a slightly longer race at 1.2 miles so it will be a new challenge  (small amount but I can tell you those last .2 miles will feel really long!).

Today I met with my trainer Michelle and she gave me a tough but not too intense work out.  I was so tired before meeting with her but now I  feel pretty good (could it be endorphins?).  Tomorrow I am planning on doing an open water swim and then Friday one of my open water swimming friends, Josh, is going to give me and my friend Kate a stroke lesson!  I’m really looking forward to it! He is even going to video tape our strokes under the water so that we can see how we might improve.  Should be pretty cool!

Getting back to exercise is not the only symptom of a vacation hangover.  Other serious side effects include a messy apartment with dishes everywhere, piles of laundry, blogs to write, friends to see, groceries to buy, work to make up, lessons to write, book club to schedule, and a seriously disheveled schedule in every other way.  Doesn’t it feel like you are constantly playing catch-up when you return for a trip?

The list seems endless!  I can tell you one thing, if I was rich I would hire someone to do my laundry.  I hate doing laundry.  It is definitely my least favorite chore.  I’d much rather do bathrooms, kitchens, dishes.  What is your least favorite chore?  There is one time when I cleaned the house spotless before my trip and coming home to a clean apartment was the best thing ever…If only I could do that every time.

I did find time to perform in the ward talent show on Monday (I really am trying to be more social instead of the gym rat I’d become).  I chose to sing Someday from the Broadway musical version of The Wedding Singer.  I was a little nervous but I think it went pretty well.  Everyone seemed pleased with my performance and thought it was funny.  Its a perfect song for a singles ward. It’s funny to think of how nervous I used to be when singing.  I fought my old teacher for weeks and nearly vomited before my first recital.  I still get nervous but it is much better than it used to be (I would hope so with 5 years of lessons!).

(Here is the version from the original broadway cast with tony winner Laura Benanti in lead vocals.  She is so amazing!)

Also, why do I always seem to plan my trips for the months that taxes are due?  It makes everything very stressful.  Note to self- no more trips in April, June, September or January!

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent a little.  It has been a jammed packed week already and it is only Wednesday!

Families are Hard Work!

When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  ~Erma Bombeck

Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.  ~Author Unknown

The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.  ~Robert Brault

If minutes were kept of a family gathering, they would show that “Members not Present” and “Subjects Discussed” were one and the same.  ~Robert Brault

I’d like to start off this post by saying that I am not offended or annoyed with anybody in my family.  However, today I was reading over my General Conference Ensign and marveling at all of the talks about families.  While each talk was inspired in many ways the speakers often seem to be talking about an alternate reality where all children behave, family quarrels never escalate and feelings are never hurt.  I understand that the brethren have to preach the ideal but still it sometimes amazes me.

Families are hard work.  It is hard to mesh personalities, goals, lifestyles, addictions, habits, interests, etc together.  Maybe some families have members that behave, live and believe exactly the same way but in those cases they probably have been translated by now!  Every family’s challenges are unique, just as every family member is unique. It is easy to judge a family and think their life is perfect but trust me we all have issues and stressful situations.

I honestly think one of the hardest things about families is getting everyone to mesh and enjoy one an-others company.  Growing up I often felt like an odd ball in my family because Megan and Ben shared more common interests than I did.  Then Anna came along and I had a family member who saw the world through a similar viewpoint.  I remember feeling her presence in the family was a comfort and relief.  Since then Megan and I have become super close- talking on the phone most days.  She is my strength.  Ben and I, while still very different, have gained a love and respect for each other over the years.

One of the challenges in my family is unifying a group of siblings that spans 20 years.  My parents have done an amazing job gathering all of us whenever possible and encouraging, even forcing us on occasion, to build our relationships.  I can say with pride that I am close to all of my younger siblings and know our relationships will only grow as they get older.

I’ve often wished that as a young woman I had learned a little bit more about how families really work.  We got a lot about the joy of motherhood, temple marriage, eternal families etc (which is great).  Wouldn’t it be even better to occasionally have a lesson on communicating effectively, resolving conflict, budgeting, stress management, and proper listening?   I think my leaders were sometimes afraid to scare us away from having families and getting married; however, I believe such lessons would do the reverse by providing a context for the stressful situations in a family and giving us tools for making things better.  Once you see that a family can be strengthened  and improved it is empowering!

It is also fascinating to see the weird things that family members have in common.  For instance, Ben and I both love the book Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy ( a very weird book but love it).  My entire family thinks Patrick McManus and the movie Better off Dead are funny.  We also love philosophy, reading, Letters from a Nut and the Simpsons (A family in Utah liking the Simpsons-scandal!). My mom and I love debating politics (although she’s come over to my side through the years!). Anna and I love indian, thai food, David Archuleta, and going to concerts/plays.  My Dad and I work together and are both workaholics (bad combination!). Megan and I will call each other when we finish any book and report on how we liked it.  We also both love writing and have always been letter/journal writers. Despite our 2 years age difference we have the unique bond of sharing a room growing up, playing for hours together, going to college at the same time and even going through the temple together.  Sam and Madeline both have my love for games and movies (they honestly see every movie!).  I could go on and on.

I love my family.  As a single person some may think I do not have one but despite living far away my family is involved in my daily life.  I really do talk to Anna, Megan, Mom and Dad almost every day.  They give me guidance, comfort, friendship and most importantly love.  The best thing about my family is that we are open with each other and constantly have intelligent, interesting discourse.  I know I matter to the world because I matter to my family.  Living a single life it can feel like everything is very transient- friendships fade, careers transition, apartments change; but, when I send a card to my nieces or help Sammy with a problem at school I know that I matter and that I am loved.  As crazy as my family can be, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Labor Day- Work

This Sunday I was asked to read a quote by President Dieter F.  Uchtdorf of the the First Presidency of my church. He says:

“May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you.  But don’t reach beyond your capacity.  Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve.  Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest.  Have faith and confidence in Him and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones. “

Easier said than done.  Why is this so hard?  At least for me, this is the great challenge of life.  I love my job, but I have always been bad at balancing the demands of work and life.   Especially as my business has begun to change there seems to be an unending number of projects and opportunities.  Just this weekend I got a new client, which is a tremendous chance to improve my standing as a property manager and make some good money along the way.  It is a connection and  opportunity  I need to add more clients besides my father.  As grateful as I am, it is also one more thing to balance in my life.

Right now there are so many things left undone.  I haven’t started real estate courses I’ve paid for.  I haven’t done much on sales tax for Grabber; and I still have tons of work on Grabber events.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are spaces this fall in the Anna and Madeline to get reserved, a client with 25 homes I would love to work with more, a guest blog I have committed to write and edit, and this new home I need to find tenants for.  I have agreed to all of these projects and I know they will bring in more money and  help my career.  In addition to work I have church responsibilities, temple work, family, and a million creative projects I would love to tackle.   I love entertaining, gathering with friends, cooking, swimming, community service, politics, singing, and reading.  With a few exceptions, I am afraid lately work has been trumping all of these noble endeavors.   I want to be better at balancing my life but I find it very challenging.

  My sister once told me I was a workaholic, and I think there is some truth to that.  I hate unfinished projects.  I think part of it is growing up with a little bit of dyslexia. This made projects and homework more difficult and time consuming than for my friends.  In college, I worked harder than most of my classmates and yet my grades were not as high as I felt they should be. I have a great memory and still recall lectures, books, teachers from college, yet in some of those same classes I scored Cs and Bs.  Isn’t that weird?  I clearly learned the required material and was impacted by it but my grades didn’t show?  This taught me that any assignment, task, job, responsibility I had was going to take twice the work from me as it did for anyone else for the same results.  I am not saying this to engender sympathy.  It’s just the way it is.   Even when I was getting my MBA other students appeared to coast when I spent hours on projects (at least in that case I got the A’s almost  every time for my hard work!).

The hardest thing for me is having true relaxation time.  This is particularly true since I work at home and am never far from the call of my cell phone or the ever present email.  I know there are reservations I have gotten because I was the first to respond and this keeps me constantly checking and rechecking.  Having the phone off for an evening makes me nervous.  In fact, just the other day I turned my phone on silence and missed out on a reservation for our vacation rental that would have been great.  My dad ended up taking the call, so perhaps they would not have agreed to rent with us anyways (if my dad can’t sell it, nobody can.  He’s a great salesman).  My brain is constantly going about how I can make things better, get more sales, satisfy clients and be more of a success.  I have had insomnia for over a year because I can’t stop thinking about work.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining because one of  my greatest joys in my life is  work.  I love what I do.  I love how it uses all my talents and yet challenges me each day.  I love the people I meet, the freedom I enjoy, the variety of tasks, and flexibility.  I love the relationship I have developed with my dad through this job and feel we are closer than ever before (that is perhaps the greatest gift of my job).  I love feeling like I finally contribute to society in a meaningful way and help make people happy- either on vacation or in their permanent home.  Because I know what it feels like to be unhappy in work, I will do whatever it takes to keep my current job and be a success at it.  Maybe everyone who owns their own company goes through this?  Maybe it is the price to be paid? My dad said when he was self-employed in Maryland that he worked 70 hour work weeks.  He worked from home and worked very hard but it never seemed to be an obsession or over-powering influence on his life.  In fact, he managed to own his own business while my mother was bedridden when she was pregnant with Sammy.  How he was able to do that and remain so outwardly calm and collected I will never know.  It is amazing.

One thing I have to remember is I always find a way to pull things off.   I worry about getting projects done but then I always do.  It’s like with the Grabber Events.  I thought it was going to be impossible to get the calendar submitted by the end of August and yet somehow I made it (September 3rd to be precise)!  It was done and up to my standards.  I worked hard and the Lord did expand my capacity in the month of August, and I am so grateful for His help.

I would love to hear some advice from all of you- especially if you work at home or for yourself- on how you separate work, family, friend and time for yourself?  How do you know when to say no to projects?  How do you not “set goals beyond your capacity to achieve”?    I  don’t even know what my real capacity to achieve is.  I always think I can do more, be more, and make more of a difference. How do you truly relax and feel rejuvenated?  Even today, on this holiday, I feel a pressure to work that is hard to describe.   How do you turn that off?

Fitness Challenge

This week I am starting a new fitness challenge with my friends.  It is sort of like the show Biggest Loser where 10 of us are competing to see who can lose the most weight at the end of 12 weeks.  To make it more motivating most of us are contributing $25 to a pool for the winner.  I don’t know if I will win (some of the girls are exercising hours a day!) but the process will be a win in and of itself.  I feel more motivated than I have in years.  I’ve always hated dieting but this time I feel like I am doing it with friends- because I am!  It is also fun because my sister Anna has joined in.  Since we will be together more starting in September it is nice to know we can support each other. I will keep the blog updated on my progress.  I have definitely lost weight this week and all I have done is lower my calorie intake and exercised on my wii fit.  It’s fun and easy! By the way, it is not too late if you want to join in.  The only rule is it is only for girls and no diet tricks (pills, starving yourself etc).  Just let me know and I will email you a link to the yahoo health group we created.

I am particularly excited about this challenge because I have been going through some stressful stuff lately and the endorphins from exercising and eating right should help me deal better.

With this new fitness challenge I thought I would post a fitness related joke which makes me laugh every time.  Enjoy!

fitness cartoons 00TANYA the TRAINER

 

For my birthday this year my wife purchased me a week of private lessons at the local health club. Though still in great shape from when I was on the varsity chess team in high school, I decided it was a good idea to go ahead and try it. I called and made reservations with someone named Tanya, who said she is a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and athletic clothing model. My wife seemed very pleased with how enthusiastic I was to get started.

They suggested I keep an “exercise diary” to chart my progress.

Day 1. Started the morning at 6:00 AM. Tough to get up, but worth it when I arrived at the health club and Tanya was waiting for me. She’s something of a goddess, with blond hair and a dazzling white smile. She showed me the machines and took my pulse after five minutes on the treadmill. She seemed a little alarmed that it was so high, but I think just standing next to her in that outfit of hers added about ten points. Enjoyed watching the aerobics class. Tanya was very encouraging as I did my sit ups, though my gut was already aching a little from holding it in the whole time I was talking to her. This is going to be GREAT.

Day 2. Took a whole pot of coffee to get me out the door, but I made it. Tanya had me lie on my back and push this heavy iron bar up into the air. Then she put weights on it, for heaven’s sake! Legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made it the full mile. Her smile made it all worth while. Muscles ALL feel GREAT.

Day 3. The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the tooth brush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I am certain that I have developed a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn’t try to steer. I parked on top of a Volkswagen. Tanya was a little impatient with me and said my screaming was bothering the other club members. The treadmill hurt my chest so I did the stair “monster.” Why would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by the invention of elevators? Tanya told me regular exercise would make me live longer. I can’t imagine anything worse.

Day 4. Tanya was waiting for me with her vampire teeth in a full snarl. I can’t help it if I was half an hourlate, it took me that long just to tie my shoes. She wanted me to lift dumbbells. Not a chance, Tanya. The word “dumb” must be in there for a reason. I hid in the men’s room until she sent Lars looking for me. As punishment she made me try the rowing machine. It sank.

Day 5. I hate Tanya more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. If there was any part of my body not in extreme pain I would hit her with it. She thought it would be a good idea to work on my triceps. Well I have news for you Tanya – I don’t have triceps. And if you don’t want dents in the floor don’t hand me any barbells. I refuse to accept responsibility for the damage, YOU went to sadist school, YOU are to blame. The treadmill flung me back into a science teacher, which hurt like crazy. Why couldn’t it have been someone softer, like a music teacher, or social studies?

Day 6. Got Tanya’s message on my answering machine, wondering where I am. I lacked the strength to use the TV remote so I watched eleven straight hours of the weather channel.

Day 7. Well, that’s the week. Thank goodness that’s over. Maybe next time my wife will give me something a little more fun, like a gift certificate for a root canal.

Looking forward to rest

I admit it today I would annoy Calvin!
I admit it today I would annoy Calvin! It's been a stressful couple of days.

I can’t write much but I wanted to update quickly on the craziness of my life the last few days.  First of all, I  moved on Saturday to my new 2 bedroom apartment.  It is much roomier and in a way feels more like a home than my last place.  I will always love that apartment because it proved I could be on my own and be happy.  This apartment feels different but I have high hopes for it as well.  As you can expect the move was stressful and exhausting.  I am so grateful to Easton Brown, Sarah Creer and other friends from church who came to my moving rescue.  It was a hot day and the move took several hours.  As I have often said I am blessed with wonderful people in my life.

With the boxes moved in the next task of unpacking came into play.  (By the way, we have also had people in all 4 houses over the last few days which is great but stressful!).  It is shocking how much stuff I have.  Truly shocking!  Thank goodness my roommate has only furniture for her bedroom and little kitchen stuff.  That was a huge blessing! She hasn’t officially moved in yet but I consulted with her before placing furniture and unpacking my kitchen stuff.  She seems very easy going, and I think we will make a good team.

I am proud to say I finished the unpacking today!  The final step was my office.  I will put up photos of my new place soon. I just love it so much!

In the midst of all this unpacking and working I also had to do my final check out of my old place today.  This morning to be more particular.  I thought I had done a pretty good job with things but the inspector sure found a big list of problems.  By the end of the check out it seems I will be responsible for $200 worth of stuff!  That’s the downside of renting.

Naturally I was in a bad mood this morning but then we added on more stress by having a crisis at work.  I won’t go into the details but one of the houses had some minor vandalism and we had someone checking into the house today!  It was creepy, annoying and exhausting all at the same time.  It ended up taking Jim and I the entire afternoon to resolve the problem.  Luckily the tenants are happy and nothing was seriously damaged or taken except some sheets that had to be replaced.  We are now already in the process of getting alarm systems on all 4 houses.

The other stressful event that happened is yesterday I made the mistake of purchasing an Ikea bookshelf with doors for the kitchen as a type of pantry. We got the bookshelf together easy enough but the stupid doors were impossible.  We literally spent the entire day.  By saying we, I mean my friend Melany Bushe and I.  I think the definition of a true friend is someone who will help you assemble Ikea furniture.  It was a lot of work and the frustrating thing is that it still isn’t perfect.  It wobbles more than it should and the doors don’t line up perfectly!  Part of the problem is they only give you those silly drawings as instructions.  There are always a million ways to go wrong- and usually I find all of them! Oh well!  It will have to do for now.  You know there is a joke about Ikea furniture- How may PHD’s do you need to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture?- 3 one PHD in Swedish, one in Engineering and one in relationship counseling.  Luckily mine and Melany’s relationship is still intact and the friendship will persist despite the trial!

Need I mention that I also have my recital for voice lessons on Friday! I am doing Somewhere Over the Rainbow which may sound like a simple song but in fact it is quite difficult.  It has an octave change with every Some-where and Rain-bow. It is definitely the hardest song I have done at a recital and is a bit of a risk.  I hope it pays off- especially with how little rehearsal time I have gotten lately with the move and all.  Wish me luck come Friday. I wish it sounded like this. 01 Over The Rainbow (Single Version)

Between everything going on I am looking forward more than ever to the tropical paradise that awaits me this Sunday.  Hawaii here I come!  I can’t think of anything more relaxing than lying in the sun with a good book listening to the waves.  I’d give up a meal a day for that pleasure! Every ounce of my sore achy emotional body is yearning for that blessed island.  Thank goodness for vacations by the ocean! I need it real bad!

I Love Nice People

Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)
Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)

So, I can’t write long but I just wanted to say how grateful I am for kind people who are understanding.  I am especially grateful both personally and professionally today.

It was a stressful day because we had three people checking into the properties, packing up my stuff, did the moving inspection, and finally moved a bunch of stuff into my new place.  It’s a long story but 2 of the houses the Benji and the Anna were rented.  The Benji does not have hot tub.  The Anna does.   Last month we decided to set up a housing swap with a family from Redondo Beach.  Since it was available I scheduled them in the Anna.  A week or so ago we got a call from a group called Signing Times (they do signing DVDs for babies learning sign to communicate early on).  Since they are paying customers I thought I should try to give them the house with the hot tub.  I called the other group and they were willing to make the swap.

So now comes today.  I was preoccupied with packing and as I headed over to sign my contract the swap group called.  Rushing I told them to go to the Anna, and Jim went ahead and checked them in.  I then signed my contract, did the inspection and moved a bunch of stuff in with the help of friends.  As I was eating dinner it hit me I had 2 groups expecting to stay at the Anna, one of them already checked in!  I panicked and called the other group.  I apologized probably 500 times and to my great relief they said “we don’t care which house we stay in”.  A few in the group were a little annoyed but as a whole they were unbelievably understanding.  I don’t know what I would have done if they had not been so great.  One of the ladies kept saying “Life happens!”.

This is a situation where I screwed up.  They would have had every right to be ticked off with me but they chose to be sympathetic.  I realize not everyone is so wonderful.   For a summer in college I worked for a hogi shop that also served teriyaki chicken.  At the beginning of the day we made all of the chicken for the entire day.  Occasionally we would run out of chicken and disappoint customers.  This one day we ran out of chicken and a lady came in wanting to order it.  Instead of ordering something else she proceeded to ream me out, calling me stupid and lazy.  The whole time I kept thinking- “What is going on in your life to make you treat me this way over chicken?”.  It was amazing.  I’ve also had moments on airplanes or in crowded places where people treated me and others like garbage.  It’s far too common.

Suffice it to say I am SO grateful the tenants I messed up today had a much better reaction.  It’s one thing to accept our friends, flaws and all, but when a stranger makes a mistake often it is easier to come unglued.  It reminds me of Jesus’ teachings when He said in Matthew 5 44-47:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Not that I was an enemy of these people, but I was definitely not their brethren (or sister).  They had every right to be mad at me, but they chose a higher path and for that I am very grateful.   They certainly had more right than the chicken lady and nothing stopped her from unleashing her rage.

On a personal note I also feel grateful for Sunnie Bybee and my home teacher Josh for helping me move today and for whomever comes tomorrow.  Look at the nice note my fellow churchmembers sent out in my behalf:Hey everybody!
We are looking for as many people as possible that would be willing to gain a few extra blessings by helping out Rachel Wagner tomorrow, Saturday May 16th, to move into a new apartment within Adagio. We are all meeting at 13323 S. Pinnacle Point Dr. #3207 @ 11 am! Your help would greatly be appreciated!

Isn’t that nice?  Hopefully people will come!  I am sure they will and for that I am super appreciative.  I am not meaning to toot my own horn but I sacrifice a lot of my time to serving my friends and community, and it is nice to see others willing to serve me when I need it. I certainly can’t move by myself!  So, thanks everyone in advance!  Thanks for being so nice.

Thanks also to the understanding tenants who are the best!

I will update the blog next week and try to have photos of my new place.  I will be in a mad rush to get things unpacked before Hawaii!  Oh Hawaii!  That sounds so wonderful!!! I am all sore and tired, and will be near dead tomorrow.  Ahh I can feel that sun now!

Success and Sweat Glands

Zig Zagler the motivational speaker said “success is dependent upon the glands – sweat glands.” I have experienced this type of success this week. As many of you know I have been working hard with my dad to get our vacation rentals ready for the first renters. It was a lot of work and I mean the physically grueling work of lifting, moving, cleaning and organizing (and even shopping can get exhausting).

I wish I could adequately paint a picture of all we have accomplished. Let me just say that on May 31st the current renters came for a tour of the properties. At that time one was mostly finished but the other needed a lot of work. For starters, the basement hadn’t even had sheet rock installed. After their tour I could tell the renters were skeptical that we could get it done on time (and to be honest I was a bit skeptical myself). Since that day we have put in many 10-14 hour days and with the help of a great team we managed to pull it off in a spectacular way. You really wouldn’t believe the transformation if you saw it. Our work included not only the construction but the furnishing, design and organization of the entire house. We had to purchase and clean everything from furniture to plates/pots and pans/TV’s etc. I even learned a lot about home decoration adding plants, flowers and photography to each room. Everything is luxurious and beautiful. The renters couldn’t believe all we had done. It is like a different house. Here are some pictures.

In addition to all the physical work of late there has also been the mental work of marketing the properties and handling new reservations (we are booked for most of July and already getting August!). We had to create a contract, get the contracts out, organize a reservation system, run deposits, set up VRBO.com accounts and more.

With all of this craziness it’s been hard to squeeze in any social time. I hope that in the next few weeks I can do better at that. I miss my friends! I think whenever you start something new (a new job, new move etc) you have to figure out what mixture of work/friends/church etc works for your life and schedule. It takes time.

Anyway, I feel this is a fractured post but I wanted to share with you’all the sense of accomplishment I feel at having gotten renters in the properties. It was a lot of work and sweat but like Zig says that’s what makes success. It certainly feels good to be proud of my work and and to do something I really enjoy (even when it is hard I still like it). I guess Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he had me quit my job and job hunt for months with no success. He was leading me to these experiences and this growth. I am so grateful for that. Grateful, proud and happy! Here is a picture of how I feel- a self portrait you might say (except I don’t have such large earrings!).