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Let’s leave nothing for later…

The funny stuff is here at the beginning. The not so funny stuff gradually builds. The sad kicks in and the feelings start feeling.

#1

Sometimes I wonder about things. Today was such a day. I had a few things. My socks were one of them. Have you sen the socks that have the R and the L stitched on them? Do they think I don’t know my right and left? But more importantly, why the hell would that matter with socks? Does it matter? I don’t think so, but my rule following brain will not let me switch them. I just can’t do it. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t are able to. Crazy, But true, for me. 

#2

The next thing I wondered about was why women do this. I don’t think I have seen men do it, but they might. I just haven’t come across it. Women will post a picture on FB or IG and then go about making their point and then say this: 

Excuse the sweat

Excuse the mess

Excuse the pajama pants

Excuse my 3 day hair

Excuse the no make-up

Excuse the toys all over the place

Excuse my….

Excuse the ….

Why do we say these things. Shame?  Embarrassment? Or just because we feel we need to? I don’t know. I hate how women make excuses for things. Just stop. You don’t need to excuse anything. You showed up for your day. You did the things. You are living your life. Let’s start normalizing those things. It’s part of life. Nobody is perfect and why the hell try? Live without those excuses. Keep showing up! 

#3

A friend from high school I have mentioned before on my blog is struggling hard. In fact, she won’t last long. She is in hospice care. It’s shocking and sad and scary all at the same time. So many things affect so many things. The surface is shiny, but scratch away a little bit and the shine fades. The reality sets in. The truth sets in. The sadness and the struggles. Let peace envelop her. Let the pain subside. May she rest in eternal peace and have a wonderful reunion with her parents. 

#4

Then the final little thoughts popping in and out all day were of my dad. His birthday is coming up and the thoughts keep rushing in. I was in Walmart yesterday, and an older dad, probably around the age of 75 or so and his daughter, in her 50s was helping him. They walked by and I immediately smelled Afta Shave. The aftershave that dad used. The green bottle of smelly smelling aftershave lotion. I thought about him through the rest of shopping trip. This month kicks my butt. It’s been 21 years and it is still hard. 

Ho-hos and Afta Shave

Plaid shirts and summer caps

Silent humor and can’t behave

Snack Wells cookies and steaks on the grill

Intimidating and subtle impacts

Perception and intuition

Knowing it’s near and feeling fulfilled

Saying goodbye and realizing this disposition

 

He would have turned 81 on the 21st. 

Happy Heavenly Birthday Dad 

Please allow me to introduce myself…

Sometimes you get on a roll and sometimes you get on the coast vibe. Right now I feel on a roll. A shift if you will. Attitude? Perhaps. The moon? Perhaps. The timing? Perhaps. Things are fun right now. When you love your job, things should feel fun. Even hard things are fun. I get to do this job. I love this job. So, I am going to do a little re-introduction. I’m not sure if I have ever really done an introduction of myself for any social media platform. So, of course, I”m not doing it the traditional way. The traditional way would be to put the post itself on FB or IG. But, I will make it a blog post. Because that’s just how I do things. You can’t tell me what is the correct way to introduce myself. So, allow me to introduce myself – cue Rolling Stones music.

My name is Peggie Larsen. I grew up in small town Pierre, South Dakota. I left for a while but found my way back. I have an amazing husband, of 23 years. I have four grown children, last one in college, and 5 beautiful grandkids.

I have been active my whole life. I started gymnastics when I was 12 and lifting weights ever since. I started teaching aerobics when I was 19. I am a Nutrition Coach, PN1 and PN2. I have also completed a holistic nutritionist certification and a Psych Skills for Fitness Pros cert. I am a personal trainer and a kettlebell instructor. Certified in 2010. Bells are my love. I further my education on a daily basis. I take all kinds of small courses to try and learn as much as I can about nutrition and the ins and outs of behavior habits and change. I like to say I am a change facilitator. I had an in-person training studio, which opened in 2011, but covid took care of that this year, so now I am all online. I love to dig in and really try to find the buttons to push to help my clients reach their goals.

I help mostly women, with a few men sprinkled in. If you are in your late 30s, 40s and beyond, I’m your person. I have gone through the whole menopause tornado. Peri, meno and post. It can be intense for so many women. I am passionate about helping women find a comfortable peace in their bodies. So many times we want to find our old bodies again, but that doesn’t work. We are constantly evolving and that’s what makes life fun. I believe it is never too late to start lifting or to start taking care of your body. Age is just an idea. I know it takes time to get to I love me. I help with that. It is so gratifying watching the little successes add up. I love helping women who think they are too old, or that’s it too late. It’s not. It never is.

A few years ago I found myself constantly gaining weight and it just wasn’t slowing down. I finally took control of my situation and got things figured out. I called myself out on my shit and got serious about my health. I have maintained an over 40 pound weight loss since then and most of the menopause symptoms have been alleviated.

Clients come to me with the struggle of coming to terms with who they are in the body they have. I help them work through those frustrations and struggles and come out stronger on the other side. Not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Weight loss is so much more than just food. It’s a bigger picture than that. There are many factors that go into learning about eating and all of the habits and behaviors that go hand in hand with that. Several of my clients have lost over 50 pounds. It definitely takes work. It can get uncomfortable sometimes too, but it’s worth it. I believe everyone deserves to be happy in their skin.

A few random things about me.

I LOVE coffee and I even used to roast my own. Many weekends you could find me sitting out in my garage with the heat gun and stainless steel bowls, music blaring and roasting away. Now, I just buy Seattle’s Best, Posy Alley Blend.

I love to hike and hit the trails. Getting out in nature is so peaceful and so good for the soul. I love moving my body via Peloton bike, tread, or with the most underrated exercise of all–walking.

I am VERY sarcastic. I am sarcastic about 90 percent of the time. In fact, a lot of people can’t tell if I’m being serious or sarcastic

Several years ago I had skin cancer above my lip. I have a giant scar that starts in one nostril and down to my lip and then over to the corner of my mouth. I also have a crooked lip because of it. I’m okay with that.

I have an intimidating look, but I’m really not intimidating at all. I love to joke around and have fun. Because really, what is life without some fun. I am really funny!

 

I would love to answer any questions you have, so please don’t ever be afraid to ask them.

 

 

I have this friend…

I have a friend. Her name is Aileen. I have never actually met her. We are online friends. Facebook friends. I admire her greatly.

She is a writer, she is hilarious, she is a life coach and an overall badass. Her newsletter is amazing and I love reading it. Here is where you can check her out – Aileen.

An interesting thing happened at 3:30 a.m. this morning. I woke up thinking about how much I adore her writing and then I did the thing that I always tell my clients not to do. I compared. I kept thinking I wish I could write like her. I wish I could have the courage to really get out there and be more vulnerable like her. She has such a cool vibe. A super cool writing style. I kept thinking it. Thinking about her confidence and her baddassery. I realized I am so close. I feel on the edge of the cliff ready to just go all in. To get in the dirt and really start digging.

My writing has been stunted ever since I got that skewering by someone in a group. And maybe that was just an excuse to have a small hiatus. Who knows. Things like that usually go much deeper. I would say the much deeper for me is feeling like an imposter or feeling like I don’t know enough or being afraid of being judged when I go all in. The feelings of not being sure of myself or feeling like an imposter are alive and well inside my brain. Super common, I know, but I still feel it.

See, Aileen actually was the first person who ever called me a writer. It made me feel amazing. It actually validated the fact that I do write and I am a writer. Thanks lady! She is on my mind a lot and I actually really look up to her. She’s a go-getter, but I know that she has struggled too, as we all do.

So in the span of two minutes this morning, thinking about a ton of shit and writing a few notes down, I went back to sleep. When I woke up, I made sure to look at what I had written down because I knew I wanted to write about it. Aileen gave me this cool little decorated tin that contained a pad of paper and a pencil to keep by my bed for that very purpose. It’s like she knew.

I started really thinking about what was going on in my brain. It was so interesting and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Compare and then feel bad. Compare and then wonder. Compare and then procrastinate. Compare and then, and then, and then. You get the idea.

So many times so many of us fall into the compare trap. I feel like my deeper is fear. Feeling like I don’t know enough. Feeling like the more I learn, the less I know. It’s pretty damn scary. Feeling like I’m not enough. And then all those feelings and emotions of not being good enough, or even enough period, not having any confidence, feeling like an imposter, and then the self-sabotage begins. Self-sabotage you say?

 

 

What is self-sabotage anyway? It can be a number of things. For me it is pressure I put on myself to think I need to be not perfect, but close. LOL. That pressure can be back breaking. It can be intense. It’s hard to break away from that. It can be hard to give myself a little bit of compassion. Procrastination is a great form of self-sabotage, so is overeating and over drinking and even overthinking. Trying to find something else to focus on instead of what I actually should be focusing on is where I notice I self-sabotage. I find a billion other things to do instead of what I should be doing. Oh, the floor needs vacuumed? Oh, look, the dogs need to go outside. Oh, I should really run to the store. So many “other” things. LOl

 

And then I got real. Nobody is like anybody else. It’s all me. Nobody can do the work for me. Motivation is fleeting, but discipline is the name of the game. Small things lead to big things. Small things lead to being confident. Sometimes I think, what’s the use, which is another form of self-sabotage. I have a voice and my voice does not sound like Aileen’s voice and that’s what is so great about it. We should’t want to be like someone else. Sure, we can admire someone else, but when it comes right down to it, we should be ourselves.

I’m working on me. I’m working on the self-sabotage. Instead of overthinking and over reading and wondering if it all sounds good, I am learning to just push publish. I’m learning to be okay with it.

I want my body back. Hint–you didn’t lose it.

I have heard this so many times. I just want my body back. If only I could get my body back. I looked so much better before I had a baby. I used to be so thin in high school. I want my skinny jeans to fit again.

First. You didn’t lose your body. Nobody stole your body. You don’t need to “get it back.”

I remember when I had my first kid. I was soooo young. Holy cow. I was 22. I remember everything I had always heard was you should be back into your “normal” clothes at your six week post baby checkup. WTF?? The pressure was crazy. I mean, who fucking made up that rule? The comments were crazy. It was the “you better lose that baby weight.” “You don’t want to get pregnant again before you’ve had a chance to lose that baby weight.” “It’s not hard, just put your mind to it.” First of all, what new mom has a damn mind? We don’t have time to think about anything, except taking care of a newborn baby. We are fighting with lack of sleep, hormones going crazy, giant boobs, bleeding and sore vaginas and wondering why the hell we decided to have kids in the first place.

At the hospital it’s all cool and nice. Then you get home and it’s like, now what? I remember feeling so overwhelmed. My child ate every two hours. I couldn’t nurse. Another thing that new moms are shamed for. I felt so guilty. I felt like I was short-changing my baby. But then the selfish emotions came knocking. I felt good, because I wanted to lose that weight and I didn’t want to eat. So there was that negotiating going on inside me. Then realization comes knocking reeeaaalllly loud. Realization tells you the straight up in your face truth–this is going to really hard. When we are pregnant we tell ourselves and we tell our friends how we can’t wait to wear normal clothes again. Then after we get there and it all sinks in, we think, well shit, maybe being pregnant wasn’t so bad. It’s all fun and games until even our fat pants don’t fit. LOL

Then when a person actually does come back to their pre-pregnancy weight, you hear things like, “Look how fast she bounced back.” “Wow, she looks amazing.” “I wish I could look like that.” And there we have the constant comments on our bodies and the constant comparison of bodies. It’s no wonder so many women have body image issues, self-esteem issues, disordered eating and shitty relationships with food.

I have four kids and I distinctly remember thinking this 6 week thing was a hard and fast rule I had to follow. Why??????

When we are focusing on changing our bodies after having babies, we are taking away from the process of being in the moment with our babies. It’s normal! What happens to our bodies is normal. Take the time to enjoy your baby and take the time to do what you want to do with your body. It’s your process. Trying to go back to somewhere in the past is absurd. This whole glamorizing of women who after 6 or 8 weeks out from having a baby are back to normal, needs to stop. Let these new moms enjoy their baby time. There is no reason to rush. Women are badasses. Plain and simple.

Look at the process of how the body changes even just in those nine months of being pregnant. Give the body time to recover. It’s okay to want to look a certain way and it’s okay to want to change. I always say do what you want. It’s your life and they are your reasons. Change how you want. Don’t change because someone tells you that you need to or that you should. Don’t change because society thinks getting back into your skinny jeans 6 weeks after having a baby is the be all end all goal. Fuck that.

Our bodies are constantly changing. We can never go back to what we were. We go through puberty, we get our periods, we get pregnant and then we go through peri-menopause and menopause. Nothing is linear. And nothing is “normal.” Every single one of us is going to be different. Everything about each of those experiences is going to be different for all of us. No two women will have the same experience. That is what is so great about us. And that is why we don’t need to conform to those outdated ridiculous standards that someone put in place to make us feel like crap about ourselves. Every stage of your life is an opportunity to get in there and learn about yourself. Love yourself, love your body and live each stage of change.

Life goes by fast enough. Children grow up fast enough. Use your timeline to make the changes you want to make. Stop trying to be somewhere else in your life. Get in the present and live every day.

 

Here’s To Strong Women

Be One

I have two people, two women, as the subject of this blog post. Two women who had a huge impact on my life and who were mentors for me.

We always have an effect on someone. Maybe it’s one person, but more than likely more than that. Young women teaching younger women. Young women impacting younger women. What they say. What they do. Being who they are and not afraid to show up.

This first woman came into my life when I was around 16 or 17 I think. She had the best aerobics studio in town. It was in the Waterfront Center in Pierre, on the top floor. A small space that had room enough for about 12 people. It was so fun. The music was loud. The sweat was running. The energy was amazing. Women kicking ass. Pushing themselves and their bodies to the limit. Working hard and being proud. Butt burners for sure. So many hydrants! Hips of steel.

These classes consisted of the workouts put to songs. Old school. Feel the beat. This was when we had record players with albums. The rest consisted of waiting until the next album and song dropped. Sweat poured.

She taught me how to work hard. She taught me how to keep going when I wanted to quit. She taught me discipline. She taught me how to make my body strong. She taught me that my body could do some amazing things. She taught me to love my body for what it could do. She taught me how to be confident. Whenever she didn’t feel well or had lost her voice, she let me be the leader of the class. She was a role model for sure. Thank you so much for teaching me how to excel. Thank you so much for teaching me that it was okay to be a strong and confident woman. Thank you Diane Friedman. I wish I knew where you lived now.

The next woman who impacted me so positively took a chance on me. She hired me to be an instructor when I was so young, maybe 19 or 20. I taught aerobics. That’s what it was called back then. I just loved it and I love thinking about how fun it was to make up the routines for the songs. Now we had cassette tapes and didn’t have to stop and switch the record after every song. Streamlined for sure. I still can remember a few songs from my class. Walking On Sunshine and R.O.C.K in the U.S.A. were a few. Those were FAST songs. Makes me tired thinking about it.

Her dream became my life. She put her heart and soul into opening The Sweat Shop. I became all in. All consuming fitness. I have been a fitness buff since age 12, but now at this time I was an actual instructor and I loved it. At that point in my life, I knew I would never look back. I knew I would always be involved in some way with fitness and health. Her vision was there. Her dream was there. It was so cool to watch it all unfold. I loved watching all the work go into The Sweat Shop. It was so exciting. Such a great vibe. Such great energy. Passion. Hard work. Perseverance. Fun.

She taught me responsibility. She taught me work ethic. She taught me to be there for myself. She taught me to follow my dreams. She taught me to be confident. She was a bad ass. She still is a bad ass. Thank you Lori Riehle for showing me the way.

When we find mentors in our lives, we need to hang on and learn everything we can from them. Wisdom means something. Learning means something.

So many years later I often think of these two women. I often think of the impact they had on my life. I learned so much and am so grateful they were put on the path of my life. I will never forget their impact.

They empowered me to stand up for myself, to be there for myself and to show up for myself.

Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

 

 

 

Cinnamon Rolls and Plastic Forks

It’s a common thing. Have you taken this drive in your car? 

Car binges. Car overeating. Binge/restrict. Restrict/binge.

Many, many people have done this and still do. Eating disorders are a real thing. They are very prevalent in our society. It can be super hard to overcome, without some kind of help. 

If you know me and have followed me for a while, you know that I had an eating disorder when I was in high school a billion years ago. 

I was lucky, in that I overcame the disorder, but some tendencies never go away. 

Car binges. Car overeatings. This behavior can be really hard to overcome. I still struggle with this. It is so easy to feel that pull of restriction. The pull of thinking I can’t have something. I have lost over 40 pounds and have kept the weight off for a long time. And even though I eat what I want, sometimes it can still be hard to ditch the diet mentality. The feeling of being restricted. The feeling of “Oh, I can’t have that.” When you find something that works for you and is sustainable for you, you have struck gold. It doesn’t mean that all those former behaviors just disappear however. It’s a constant work in progress. I am a constant work in progress. I have to be on top of my mindset all the time, or that voice tries to pull me out. LIke in the 1979 movie The Warriors – “Warriors come out to plaaaaaay.” You know that one. Your inner critic. 

If you haven’t seen this cheesy movie, here is the clip I am talking about. You can skip to about the 1:25-ish mark to hear what I am talking about.

 

Here’s scenario one: 

You go to the store for your weekly shopping trip. You are trying to stay on your “diet.” Everything looks good. You just want something, something sweet. It ends up being cake. For someone else it might be something else. Candy, donuts, cookies, or even pizza if your trigger is salty. You can fill in the blank with what foods you have a hard time not eating all of it, if you have one. On this day it’s cinnamon rolls. Other days it may be cake.

You start to get the feeling. That feeling. The – I shouldn’t be doing this – feeling. It can happen in an instant. You can be strong as hell walking into the store and walking out you feel like a weakling. Pretty soon you hear the voice. The -I deserve this -voice. The -I have been sooooo good- voice. I haven’t had cake or cinnamon rolls in months. It’s the all or nothing. It’s the diet mindset. The rigid diet rules. The deprivation feeling is strong. It’s winning. You tell yourself you will just have one bite of the cake or one middle of a cinnamon roll on the way home. You even stopped in the deli for a fork so you don’t have to just use your fingers. Been there, done that. You get the 8 pack of cinnamon rolls. Because you think you can control yourself. Why get just one. Seriously.

The car scene can be a train wreck. You put your groceries away and you throw the trigger in the front seat. Close range. Easy to grab. Easy to eat. It’s like a ritual. You don’t want to look like an ass, so you get it opened and ready. You back out of your parking spot and slowly move through the parking lot. It starts. One bite, then two then three. You tell yourself you are just going to eat the middles of the cinnamon rolls. If you eat all 8 that equals one full roll, right? WTF??!!! Look at that logic. Pretty soon, a bite or two out of every one of them. But you don’t want to go crazy. You don’t want to eat ALL of them. So to make yourself feel better, you just go back to the middles and eat the middles out of all of them. By the time you get home, you may have eaten 3 or 4 full cinnamon rolls or the entire piece of cake, or the full dozen cookies, or six donuts, or 3 slices of pizza. Whatever it is, it’s been eaten. And you can’t even believe you did that. Mindless eating is a thing. You just did it. 

You feel like crap. You feel like you failed yourself. Miserably. 

This used to be me.  I still want to do that sometimes. It’s definitely hard to break through that mindset. 

But let’s move on to scenario 2. A better scenario. Something to work towards. Something I do now. 

You go to the store for your weekly shopping trip. You know you want something sweet and you know you still may struggle with trigger foods. You buy one cinnamon roll. You know you don’t need 8 rolls and the excuse that the rest would be for your family is bullshit. 

You get to the car and you put ALL the groceries out of reach, even the cinnamon roll. You drive home. You put all your groceries away and then make some coffee or tea. Once that is done, you get your cinnamon roll and you put it on a plate and you sit down at the table with your coffee or tea. Then you savor and taste every single bite of that cinnamon roll. You eat it slowly. You enjoy it. By being mindful and by realizing it’s okay to have a cinnamon roll, you don’t feel restricted or deprived. You can enjoy it without feeling guilty and without feeling ashamed. 

Plan treats into your program. It does not have to be all or nothing. Trying to eat better or trying to make changes does not mean you have to eliminate all your favorite foods. Be smart about fitting them in. Be mindful! It takes practice. By slowing down, listening to what your body is telling you and then enjoying that food in moderation, it gives you a level of freedom from food jail. It gives you a sense of power. Keep practicing. Take ownership of your behaviors. Know that this takes time and it does take patience and it does take consistency. Keep going. 

Break On Through To The Other Side

I’ve challenged myself to try new things, go on adventures and get my brave on. Well, I can’t really go on many adventures because 2020, but I have been putting in more time learning and more time working on me. Self-development they call it. I’m not ashamed to say that when I first started coaching my nutrition clients I felt shit scared. But, I put in the work and I put in the study and I find ways to empower them to want to change. I don’t like to tell people what to do. I want them to be in on the decision-making. We find ways together, to help push toward their goals. Not my goals for them. Their goals. It took me some time to come around. It took time for me to change. It’s not an instant thing. I know how it feels. 

I used to think that when it came to fat loss, that if I just ate less and moved more, that would be good enough. Or if I just ate clean, I could eat as much as I wanted. I thought all the cardio would be good enough. I thought all the good food would be good enough. Sure, that’s part of it, but not to extremes. The biggest needle pusher is mindset. I found that out when I lost over 45 pounds. I finally figured out the trick. It wasn’t all or nothing. It wasn’t restriction and then overeating again and then restricting again. And then again saying, “I’ll start Monday.” The magic is doing things consistently. And changing the mindset. Changing how I thought about things changed everything. 

I remember when things felt hard. I wanted to run the other way as fast as I could. And I did. I did for a long, long time. I was justifying every single excuse I was making. Every shitty behavior. I had an excuse. The in my head voices told me to do the easy thing. Run the other way. That’s easier. Just east whatever you want. Just drink whatever you want. 

Fear. The unknown. Not being sure if I really wanted to change, even though I told myself I did. All these things are super common and I felt every single one of them. It can be so hard to kick that can down the street. The chatter is loud and it can be extremely hard to reframe those voices.

It’s so easy to go back to the comfort zone. You know, the blankie, the Netflix, the couch and the potato chips. Our bodies crave that comfort. It’s warm. It feels safe and yummy. But the thing is, nothing changes though, unless you change something. I changed. I finally changed my behaviors and my habits. I took responsibility and quit justifying the behaviors that were taking me nowhere. 

But the thing is. There is so much information out there. Where does one start? Start small. Something every day. Start snowman building. Build the habits. Change the mindset. Practice being better. Practice making better choices. Start with the basics. What are the basics? 

Guess what most people don’t get enough of? Sleep

Guess what most people don’t get enough of? Nutrient dense foods

Guess what most people don’t get enough of? Movement

Guess what most people don’t get enough of? Protein

Guess what most people don’t get enough of? Water

Those are my basics. You don’t have to do every single one of them right away. Start with one. Do it for a week or two and then add another. Keep building these behaviors until they become easy. 

Motivation will come. Mindset change will come. Positive things will start to happen. Don’t give up. Show up and be consistent. 

That’s what I did. I showed up. I did the work and I got the results. I did it even when I didn’t feel like it. If you are going through change and it feels uncomfortable, keep pushing yourself because on the other side is something really, really good. 

I’m always here for you if you need help and accountability. 

Nostalgia, The Library and Sharky

nos·tal·gia

/näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/

noun

noun: nostalgia; plural noun: nostalgias

  1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I was having coffee this morning and thinking about what I wanted to write about. Nothing came to mind. I mean absolutely nothing. I kept trying to find a trigger. Something I could grab hold of. A word, a thought, a sign. Nothing. I hate when that happens. It can be hard for a writer to get going sometimes. It’s hard to grasp that tiny piece of thread to start the unwinding of the tale to tell. For me anyway. I would imagine writers are like that. Beginning ones. Me ones. 

I just let my mind go. I was curious to see where it would end up. Ahhhh, the library. The Carnegie Library. The kid library. I remember spending hours and hours at that library. I loved the card on the inside cover of the book. The librarian stamping the due date, with the rubber stamper, filled with blue ink. I wandered for what felt like hours, looking and searching for books. 

The library was officially opened in March of 1905. My birthday month. I knew there was special meaning to this place. It served as the public library until 1972, when operations were moved to the Rawlins Municipal Library. 

I visited the library mostly on Saturdays. Walking through the doors and down the steps. The smell that immediately hits. That dark, damp, book smell. I LOVE the smell of books. I walked down the creaky stairs to the kid section. Just walking and looking and feeling at peace. Books, books and more books. The key to learning. The key to life. The key to disappearing. 

By definition, that is exactly what the library meant to me. Happy personal associations. I loved it there. The librarian, whose name I cannot remember, was a tiny little lady. I can see her walking, she had distinctive walk, kind of a shake to the head as she walked and her heels clippity-clopping on the hardwood floor. She always wore a dress, tied at the waist and always a print. She had glasses too. Stereotypical librarian, I suppose. 

Our house was built in 2000 and we completed the moving in process in 2001. We had an amazing carpenter. He was meticulous with detail. Very OCD if you will. He knew how we appreciated the past. We loved old treasures from long-forgotten, abandoned buildings in town. We have columns in our house from the old Flame Room. We went with him and dug through the upper floor of the building hunting for the treasures. His name was Sharky. He kept an eye on us. He noticed how much these things meant to us and how much the history meant to us. 

He built the mantel for our fireplace and he built the bases for those columns. The craftsmanship is stunning. His work ethic like no other. Meticulous, precise and thorough come to mind when remembering the building of the house.

During the process, he absolutely floored us with something I will never forget. He told us he had salvaged the shelves from the old Carnegie Library. He asked if we wanted him to build our home library with them. Ummmm, yeah! They are a true work of art. The wood is gorgeous and so smooth. Not a bump or a flaw anywhere on them. 

Every time I am in our library, which is where I sit right now, as it has pretty much turned into my home work space, I look at those shelves and I am reminded of the nostalgia of my youth. I am reminded how much I loved that library. He brought my past to life in those shelves. It was a true gift. He was a true gift. 

Sharky passed away on February 7, 2014. He was 62. Sharky was his nickname. His true name was Mark Drees. I still see him roaming through the house, t-shirt and jeans, pencil behind this ear and giant cup of coffee. His voice was distinctive. His laugh was contagious. The talent was crazy amazing. I pulled up his obituary and in reading through it was reminded of the history surrounding his work. So many places lucky to have his touch. He is definitely missed. 

This post started out as the library and turned into the craftsmanship of a man we were very luck to have met. Thanks for the history Sharky. We will never forget it. 

Sharkey Obituary

Good friends do hard things for their friends

It’s never a good time.

How would you know if it was?

The admission is hard.

The decision is hard.

The finality of it is hard.

Today was a day like that. Today was a final decision day.

Pets are an important part of our lives. They become family to us. It’s hard to watch the decline. It’s hard to watch the inevitable. Denial is normal. Emotions are normal. None of us want to face the facts.

My husband helped a friend today. He took his friend’s dog to the vet to be put down. He sat with her and was with her as she let go. He gave her comfort. His friend couldn’t do it. It was just too hard. Pets are like our kids. It’s so emotional.

He gave his friend comfort.

Sometimes we just can’t do it ourselves.

Sometimes we need a little help from a friend.

Sometimes friends are what we need the most.

He texted around 8:30 this morning and said she was gone. I asked if he gave her lots of love. He said yeah and that it was hard. We both loved that dog too. She was a great dog.

Sometimes we have to do really hard things.

Sometimes we do hard things for friends and it is appreciated.

I hit send…

I did a thing. And then got slammed.

On November 25, 2020, I submitted something I wrote. It was to an online site, using a writing prompt. The parameters were pretty easy. Start with this phrase … and end with this phase… and write 1000-3000 words. So I did. I’ve never put my writing out there like that. I’ve published a ton of blog posts and a few short stories, but I have never publicly thrown down like this. I was nervous and was definitely feeling self-conscious. The story was fiction, so that was a little different for me to write, but I thought why not. I thought it would be fun to stretch myself a little bit. I thought my story was a little dark, but decent. 

It felt great. I felt like I really did a good thing and was supporting myself and pushing myself. I was super proud of myself. So when I received an email a few days later with a notification that someone commented on my post, I was really excited to see what that person had to say. I read the “critique” and immediately felt like someone punched me right in the gut. You know that gut feeling, where you just want to crawl in a hole and hide. The kind where you feel it throughout your whole body. Every single inch of your body feels the shame and humiliation. The hotness of those feelings radiating throughout your body. It’s so tangible right now as I write this. That feeling sure stuck. The feeling of being so embarrassed and wondering why you even tried. Yeah, that feeling. It was gut-wrenching for sure. All the emotions circled around for days. More than days actually.

I felt like such a failure and I questioned everything about my writing. That feeling stayed with me for a while. I didn’t want to write anything. I couldn’t. It blunted my creativity for several weeks. There was nothing critique-y about it. It was pretty much a full body slam. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I have not gone back to that site. I don’t know if I will submit anything there again. I might. It will probably take a long, long time if I do. I can’t let one person’s opinion sway me from continuing. 

I think about the things people say and their unsolicited opinions and advice, and I try to put myself in other people’s shoes. For example, I liken this to when someone who is trying to make some positive changes in their life. This person decides in order to change they should start working out. They buy a gym membership. It takes guts to put yourself out there. Then this person goes to the gym and gets made fun of because they are overweight or not doing an exercise correctly. The point is they showed up. They showed up to try and make some changes. They showed up to be better. Isn’t that enough?

I showed up for myself and got shot down. It took me a while to get over that. And frankly, it still stings. It stopped me in my tracks for a while., but I feel like I am back to being my “normal” self with my writing. I don’t plan to give up. I plan to keep going. I will keep writing. I will keep working at it. Why? Because I love it. Because I care about getting my words on paper and because I care about growing and stretching myself in this craft.

What you say matters. Remember that. You can inspire or you can dishearten. You can motivate or you can discourage. Think about that before you respond. You never know what someone has been through or what someone is going through. Be helpful and be positive. 

If something like this has happened to you, I would love to hear how you persevered. I would love to hear how you kept going and how you are doing now. Please let me know. I love to hear from you. 

Shine your light.