Fit, Fabulous, and Forty…Something!

Just put one foot in front of the other…There comes a time in every woman’s life, where she finds herself at a crossroads. A place of making a decision between forgetting her worth and letting herself go or saving herself from herself and showing the world. Just. Who. She. Is. Over the course of the past few months, I have found myself in such a place.
For far too many years, I have let myself go. I have battled depression, anxiety, failed relationships, trying to go to back to college full time while working a full-time job. We have all been there, that place where life has us pulled in so many directions, and nothing seems to be going right. I’ve eaten out of pity, I’ve eaten through the tears, I’ve gotten frustrated and angry with myself for trying to eat away my pain, and then eaten more because I was depressed because I had done so. It is a vicious cycle, and it is all to easy to fall in to.
The important thing is to learn to not beat yourself up for those moments of weakness, they say. Yet, when we give in and do such damaging things to our bodies and, ultimately, our already fragile self-esteems, it is all but impossible not to shame ourselves for such behaviors. Especially, when we know better. Yet, here I am, about a hundred pounds overweight.
Over the past couple of years, however, my life has changed in a very drastic way. I met someone, much younger, but very special to me. Despite my sense of practicality and the well-meant advice of many friends and family, I took a chance on dating him. I thought I would just see where it would go, and if it was not meant to be, I would just let it play out, knowing for a brief moment, I went after life with reckless abandon and enjoyed every moment I had been given. Ironically, to date, things have not played out. They are amazing, in fact. We have gotten married and are planning to move to Florida soon and start a new life, living it up in the Gulf of Mexico.
During the beginning of our relationship, things were great for my fitness goals of getting back into shape and dropping all of that depressed weight I had been carrying around. We went hiking often, we joined a gym together, and we were at the lake often. We were very active and wide open. It was fantastic, we were both getting in very good shape, over all. Then he was moved to second shift on his job. I still tried to work out and walk when I was home by myself at nights. That lasted a little while and was going great. Until he convinced me to go back to school while he was gone at night, I would have plenty of time to work on my assignments. He was right. I did not take into account, however, that after a twelve to fourteen-hour day at my job, I would be coming home at night and spending another three to four hours trying to get my assignments completed. And, just like that, working out went right out the window. He has since gone back to day shift, and we had decided to get back into hiking. Only, we found out really fast, that it has been far too long since we were that active with our marathon hiking weekends, and we were almost dead after a couple of less than five-mile hikes. Aside from that amazing husband of mine, I have two very incredible granddaughters. One is only about to turn a year old soon, and the other is almost four. I enjoy being with them so much, but they are very mobile and quite active now. After a few hours with them, I find myself needing a three-hour nap. And that has become more motivation for getting back active.
I have often heard it said that age is just a number. I have seen people in their seventies who are in prime shape and phenomenal active condition, and I have seen people in their thirties who can barely walk up a flight of stairs. So, I suppose it is true that it is never too late to start. I have decided to challenge myself to a hundred days of working out. Today was day one, and I got up before four a.m. to go to the gym. I did not do a very good job of getting anything laid out and ready last night and spent almost a half hour looking for everything to get ready. Therefore, I only had about an hour of time available for the gym before I had to get home and start getting ready for my day. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? And they say, the journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step. An hour of something is better than a day of nothing. I feel good after accomplishing that. It is hard to want to get up before four a.m. and it is even harder to jump out of bed and jet off to the gym. I know many people do this on a daily basis, and I truly admire them!
More than just getting fit, this journey I have committed to, is about living a fabulous life. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful family, and a great future to look forward to in a quaint little beach town. Why not grab life by the horns and make the most of it all? They say now that forty is the new twenty, so why not rock those forties, and be fabulous? That is what I am aiming for. This one-hundred-day journey will take me far beyond just working to reach my fitness goals, but also losing the metaphoric weight of past regrets and failures. Depression and anxiety are real life problems that we all go through from time to time, but there is no hard and fast rule that say they have to define you, or control what you are capable. It is time to show the world. Just. Who. I. Am. Day one of one hundred, out.

Petals in the sand…

A thousand feet have trod about,

some hurried, some meandering.

Attached to eyes fixed up and about,

looking for beauty in the world around them.

Missing, all the while, that beauty can be found in the dirt;

in the mud, in the sand, in the murk.

Hurts in the past , while may remain, last but a while.

The bleeding stops; the wound heals; the scar lightens.

There is still beauty to be found amidst such ugliness..

Wear  your scars with pride; they tell a story, your story,

and, there is no greater story in all of history than the one you own.

Delicate petal of the mountain; grains of sand on the shore come together to write

a song.

One of being adored one day, and utterly battered and weathered the next.

Yet, both remain hardy. Relentless. Unyielding.

Look for the petal in the sand; be the beautiful thing in the dirt.

A Busy Girl’s Guide to Successful College Learning.

To be successful in college, one the student must be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to complete the lessons, read the assignments, and properly study for exams. The importance of the effort required to be successful can be stated as, “Academic success in college requires a combination of active study habits such as completing assigned readings before class, taking effective notes during lectures, and studying course materials regularly (Credé & Kuncel, 2008; Lei, 2015).” (Heinicke, Zuckerman, & Cravalho, 2017). The student is going to need motivation above all to put in the kind of effort and time that will be required to be successful, as stated in a report by Everaert, Opdecam, and Maussen (2017), “Moreover, high intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation have a significant positive influence on deep learning.”
Proper planning and spacing out the study plans will be key to getting most of the time that is put into the lessons and study time. As stated, “The results indicated that self-regulation, specifically planning, as an important factor for explaining student success and satisfaction in an online course.” (Inan, Yukselturk, * Kurucay 2017). The best way to plan out the course is to set with a planner or calendar and a copy of the course syllabus prior to first day of class, and mark important dates, such as exam dates, lesson and assignment due dates, and any rough draft work for any final written assignments for end of course work. Once those dates are written down on the dates, it is wise to look at the reading assignment for each week, for number of chapters covered and look at length of chapters, then break the reading assignment into segments that will be short enough for retaining the information covered, yet not so long as to overwhelm the reader to prevent recalling any of the information.
In relation to studying for exams, use of study tools such as flashcards, practice exams, study guides, taking good notes, and highlighting have proven to aid in the success of performance on college exams. As noted in the following study by Bartoszewski and Gurung.

Bartoszewski, and Gurung (2015) study determined the following:
“Five techniques, summarization, highlighting, keyword mnemonics, rereading, and using imagery for text learning, have low utility although they relate to learning. For example, students who use imagery, creating a mental image for the text, learn better (Leutner, Leopold, & Sumfleth, 2009). Highlighting has also been used to assist a student in understanding the required text. Readers who were able to identify the most relevant material as evidenced by highlighting, achieved higher overall exam scores in the course (Bell & Limber, 2009). Three other techniques have moderate utility: Elaborative interrogation (generating an explanation for why a concept is true), self-explanation (relating new information to old information), and interleaved practice (studying by mixing different kinds of material within a single study session). For example, elaborative interrogation improved a student’s learning of factual information (Woloshyn, Paivio, & Pressley, 1994). In addition, self-explanation enhanced a student’s learning of the series of steps that needed to be taken for a specific task, especially when researchers gave specific instructions to the student (Rittle-Johnson, 2006). Only two techniques got top billing. Dunlosky et al. (2013) rated a final category of techniques as having high utility—practice testing (or practice retrieval) and distributed practicing (or spaced practice). In one study, practice testing benefited a student the most when a student was able to correctly recall the initial concepts three times, and in addition, relearnt the concepts over a long period of time (Rawson & Dunlosky, 2011). Learning is more likely to occur not only when the student is able to recall the item, but also when a student had successfully retrieved the items twice (Karpicke, 2009). Some students spread out their studying, a technique referred to as distributed practice (Dunlosky et al., 2013). An example of the way a student may engage in both high utility techniques is by using flashcards. Students using flashcards are practice testing, and they tend to also space out their practice over time (Wissman, Rawson, & Pyc, 2012). Overall, students would most likely perform better on tests if they space out their studying over the course, despite differences in the way distributed practice is carried out (Bain, 2012).
Based on the results of the study, it would be recommended to being on day one with the reading assignment, and highlight specific information to go back and read again. Making an outline of the chapter with headings listed throughout the chapter would be a good start on going back to find information for an open book exam. Going back after making the outline and making a study sheet from the highlighted notes from each section of the chapter would provide a study sheet to reference to create test questions for practice testing. Also, making word cards by using index cards to write down vocabulary words and definitions would be beneficial for becoming familiar with the terms, and help with better understanding of the practice test questions. The days before the exam, start with a quick review of each chapter covered on the exam being sure to add anything missed on to the study guides, notes or word cards, and on the day of the exam, allow time for reviewing the notes and study guides. Be sure to get plenty of rest the night before the exam, and do not stay up late trying to cram all the information in last minute. As Blerkom (2013) warns, “Studying for college exams requires a high level of motivation. You can’t just do a quick review the night before the exam and expect to learn all of the information. There’s just too much material to master.” (p 239). Eat a healthy breakfast and/or lunch (depending on timing) on the day of the exam. Relax, with proper time management, motivation, and effort put into completing lessons, reading the chapters, and preparing the study materials, the information on the exam will become familiar.

Resources
Bartoszewski, B. L., & Gurung, R. R. (2015). Comparing the relationship of learning techniques and exam score. Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning In Psychology, 1(3), 219-228. doi:10.1037/stl0000036
Blerkom, D.L. V. (2013). Orientation to College Learning, 7th Edition. [CengageBrain Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://cengagebrain.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781133712435/
Everaert, P., Opdecam, E., & Maussen, S. (2017). The Relationship between Motivation, Learning Approaches, Academic Performance and Time Spent. Accounting Education, 26(1), 78-107.
Heinicke, M. R., Zuckerman, C. K., & Cravalho, D. A. (2017). An evaluation of readiness assessment tests in a college classroom: Exam performance, attendance, and participation. Behavior Analysis: Research And Practice, 17(2), 129-141. doi:10.1037/bar0000073
Inan, F., Yukselturk, E., Kurucay, M., & Flores, R. (2017). The Impact of Self-Regulation Strategies on Student Success and Satisfaction in an Online Course. International Journal On E-Learning, 16(1), 23-32.

I was born to tell you I love you.

Finding the one person we are meant to love.
Every person is born with a purpose and a plan. I think we can all agree to that at least. But so many people live their entire lives missing out on their purpose, because they waste so much precious time chasing after finding true love; at least, their idea of what true love should be. When we put our ability to be happy or sad in the hands of another person, a lover, we are setting ourselves up for failure. And failure is exactly what we will accomplish. No matter how much we get along with another human being, or how attracted to them we may be; no other person in the world holds the power to control our happiness, and should never be given that power.
I am sure I can share my personal story and while it is my own story, so many others can pick out bits and pieces of the story and relate to it, if one picks out just enough of the pieces, they can even begin to believe I am citing their own story. While we are all unique and different individuals, we all go through life much the same way. When we are young, we dream of what our lives will be like when we grow older, we imagine, with great enthusiasm, how perfect our families, our homes, and our jobs are going to be. We get a little older and begin our search for “the one.” We all go through a lot of heartbreaks in the process. While there is that rare few who meet at a young age and are divinely meant to be together their entire lives, let’s face it, we go through a lot of duds before we find our stud (or goddess)! Sometimes, we find that “one” that we believe with everything in us that is the one that will make us happy forever, and then even those “ones” can leave us crushed and devastated, and , question every choice we have ever made- right down to why did we choose vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate. The point being, a broken heart can make us question our own self worth and validity in even existing.
It does not need to be that way. It is a hard concept to grasp, because we all dream of that sweet little couple lying in the bed at the nursing home holding hands and peacefully dying together after spending a lifetime sharing a perfect and true love. Even in the knowledge that most people never have that “Notebook” (Sparks) kind of love, many people never give up faith in finding it. Those same people fail to realize that they alreay have the one person they were meant to love from birth.
So often, we go about life foregetting that we are own one constant. We are always there, we know all our secrets, we share our own dreams and fears, and we believe in ourselves. Well, we should belive in ourselves more than anyone else does, although that is not always the case. In all sincerity, we can never expect to posess the ability to love anyone else until we can learn to fully love ourselves. That makes a far easier cliche than tangible act. But, therein lies a hope, a plea, a need even for us all to seach deep within ourselves and find “the one” true love that should be regarded above all others. Now, that is certainly not to imply that we sould place ourselves on a pedestal by any means. Quite the contrary, never boastfully put yourself that high- it would make for a greater fall.
To love yourself, means more than simply being good to yourself. Take time to truly care for yourself. Feed your mind positive affirmations daily- remind yoursefl often of just how wonderful you really are; clothe your body in tenderness- not just about dwelling on physical appearance, but treat yourself with true tenderness: nurture, rest, and be active; most of all, embrace your soul for all its wonders- you are divinely and uniquely created, so put your individuality out there and be proud to show it off to the world.
It will not be an easy transition, nor will it be quick. You spent years trying to chase all the wrong people to make you happy only to be let down time and time again. Take it day by day, and give just a little more each day. Start by standing in front of the mirror and say, with purpose and sincerity, to the person staring back at you, “I was born to tell you I love you.” Soon enough, it will start to become real, and then you will know what it means to finally find “the one” person who can show you the meaning of true love.

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Sparks, Nicholas. The Notebook. New York: Warner, 1996. Print.

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