Stephanie Under Construction Blog

Analog

Whelp, all good things must come to an end…full speed ahead again. But this time, it’s my hand on the throttle. Don’t get me wrong–still riding out the honeymoon here in paradise, but it’s time to get back to the business of adulting after two weeks of transitioning. At this point, we are probably 3x more unpacked in this house in 17 days than the one we lived in for the last 2 1/2 years. It actually looks like people live here vs just squatters, lol. Definitely another garage sale in a few weeks as I finish going through more stuff! This move we have dedicated to unpacking completely and downsizing the clutter as we don’t intend on moving again. So much fun to put together a home that’s “yours” and as time goes on to continue to chose the remaining furniture and things we need. But, we’ve got the basics and that’s all that we need!

The past several months have been well…I don’t think I can concisely sum up the emotions…on top of all the work in this transition, the holiday season, and recovering from surgery. While I’m not naive to the calendar of races creeping up quickly, my coach in his infinite wisdom, understood the pressures on me and knew what I would heap on myself as well and challenged me to this–no watches, no workout selfies, no social media/strava until I get settled. This would give me a chance to truly hone in on RPE and not stress about metrics, calendars, missed workouts, and structure and completely listen to what my body needs in the middle of healing, busyness, and one of the most stressful times of my life. Have I overdone it? Yup. Have I taken it easier than I probably needed to? Yup. Any regrets? Not a one. Though, all good things come to an end, and now that I’m on a routine now, we talked this morning that “the analog project” is coming to an end.

I recently went through Deena Kastor’s book, Let Your Mind Run, for probably the fourth time–this book resonates so much with me in how I want to balance the things I value, life, business, and training. To have flexibility in honoring what’s most important, yet also meeting the responsibilities of life and reaching our greatest potential. Win. Win. Win. And…peace.

Yesterday I sent my husband off to his job training and boy, they hit the ground running! Poor guy sounds exhausted. I too had quite the day. I had set a rather lofty agenda for the day to start off the week with a bang and got a ton done. Couldn’t be more pleased with all that I accomplished around the house and in my office today. Definitely starting the week on the right foot!

It’s so fun to see how things are taking shape as I still unpack all the fitness equipment…this shot is just a sliver (25%) of the studio space I’m utilizing for the gym for Heart and Sole (uh, and my bike trainer–with a view!)

Why Heart and Sole?

I need a name! *Face Palm* (There might have been another adjective or two in there) …that’s how it went when I started the steps of legitimizing this beautiful business of mine that has come to fruition. As I started working the steps (backwards, of course, until I got righted by the smart people) and coming to realize the order in which I needed to submit all of my paperwork to the Arizona Secretary of State, the city, the IRS, etc, I needed a proper name to call this dream I’m carrying out.

Enter…more smart people. aka: a few creative friends. One reminded me that the focus of my own holistic journey has not been completely rooted in the physical, but also entirely spiritual and richly enveloped in emotional change as well. The other reminded me of a very important scripture passage, Matthew 22:37, where Jesus says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (NLT)

All of me. All in. Sharing my journey, helping others find their full potential to reach their individual goals just as I have been lead to do in my own life too.

The name became crystal clear…and I owe all the creativity on the play on words to a girlfriend. The logo is going to be pretty cool too–more to be revealed (ooohhhh suspense!)

And there you have it, my dream become reality: Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness

Perfect Peace

There are very few times in my life when I can recall experiencing true peace and contentment in my life, but when you know it, you know it. You also know those experiences won’t stick around forever and you fiercely savor those moments to hide in your heart to remember because the memories do. Some of those peaceful moments I’ve experienced are things like when I signed my covenant in getting ready for ordination, walking down the aisle to marry my husband…never could or would I have imagined it coming from walking away from what was meant to be a lifetime of service.

But.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecc 1:8, NLT)

My life of service isn’t over. My life of service in that particular vehicle of service is over.

I sat in a meeting this week expecting to be made a pariah for my new life, yet instead I was loved, encouraged, and prayed for instead–and even reminded that I have a marketplace ministry now, a place to make an impact for Christ right on the front lines. I could’ve cried right then and there…I’ve gotten good for saving the ugly crying for at least when I’m in my car or later on these days. I’m living my dream–to be able to help people navigate their individual paths to achieving their seemingly impossible goals. Because they’re not. I can do it, so can you.

I’m not stupid, I know the honeymoon will end. But I also can’t deny God’s hand at work in this transition how everything has fallen into place and is moving along well. He has made a way, and He is with us. He is good.

Last.

We have officially entered the hardest part of our transition out of our current ministry. The “lasts.” Over the next 10 days we will be conducting our last meetings, presenting at our last speaking engagements on particular topics, leading our last two Sundays as the pastors of the congregation, saying our “see ya laters” to folks, finishing packing and cleaning, ensuring all the proper contacts have the correct information for who/what/when/where/why going forward, and making sure everything is in place for a smooth transition for those new leaders that are stepping into our place.

Like ships in the night…that’s always been a hard part of our ministry and how we move around. We are going to be packing up our u-haul next Friday, moving into our new house on Saturday, popping back to lead for one last Sunday, hand over our keys to those that will hold them for the new leaders, and then they move in on Monday. Very much an unceremonious end to a chapter of life that has consumed us completely for many years. Such is life. We at least had the blessing last week to meet face-to-face with the folks stepping into our place, an opportunity that is not afforded often, and we were so pleased to have that time to make this transition (hopefully) smoother for them.

While these days are consumed with all of the “lasts,” we’re filled with excitement for the next steps in life. To be able to spend more time with our families, especially our aging parents…to care for ourselves in some ways that we haven’t been able to…to be able to live out some of my dreams that I’ve felt so strongly called to do…to work apart from my husband so each of us can thrive without being the two parts that make the whole vocationally…to move back to the community and people we dearly love. Excited, absolutely. And with all change, a bit of anxiety too. But how does that quote go? Your goals should excite you a lot and scare you a little–yeah, we’re there. It’s all good though. God has been with us in the process and led the way. Our full confidence is in Him.

There’s a lot of firsts too. My husband and I were married after we were in ministry full time, so there’s a lot that one or both of us are experiencing for the first time. We got to choose our home together. We purchased my first car…it still sounds bizarre for me to say that at 38 years old, but I’ve never had a car that was “mine”–all my friends had cars in high school, public transportation was readily available when I was in college and I remained living in that city for some years after, and then I entered seminary and since that point I’ve always driven fleet vehicles so I simply never had a need for my own. We have had to choose the first bits of furniture for our home that we’ll build upon as time goes on. We get to “reintroduce” ourselves to the world as individuals with specific passions, goals, gifts, talents, and even our now separate vocations. And there’s the hard parts too…there’s a big adjustment in having to plan, budget, and execute adulthood when so much has been provided for us over the years so our sole focus was our work. But we’re up to the challenge, because we know Who is leading the way.

We’ve been so blessed by the love and support we’ve received, and as always the prayers from others that we covet. This was never a choice we imagined making, but, life happens, and God is always bigger than our plans. He has provided us with the people that are upholding us, very gracious responses internally and externally to our choices, and the peace in our hearts to know that “it is well.” As with anything, there’s been blowback–people that have made assumptions, talk behind our back, or simply just refuse to talk to us to learn the truth of our situation…but we can’t control those situations, people, or their actions. We have definitely had a painful lesson in who your friends are and who’s around just for drama, but it’s helped us to lean in hard on the love–grasping on to the love that’s being shown to us in many ways and to lean on Him as He guides us in all the next right steps.

It is good. God is good. As our hearts break a bit going through the “lasts,” those holes are filled with a hope for the future. What is right and true and part of God’s will and purpose for us. For the moment, we keep plugging along to finish well, and soon, we exhale. A new chapter in our book of life. It is good.

More later. (and yeah, updated website coming soon…the tech inept–me–is close to nailing this!)

Awake and Alive

Just in case you haven’t noticed (because not all of it I’ve been able to keep it unpublished until launch as I develop all the new pages), stephanieunderconstruction.com is under construction! As of February 3 (praying all systems go according to my meager web development skills), this page will be the landing page for my new business, Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness! This blog will still remain (and become much more active), but as a tab on the main bar on the top of the page and not the first thing you see when you click on the website. (Hint: subscribe to the blog if you want new entries sent right to your inbox) The blog itself is not going to change–it’s still going to be about my holistic journey, athletic pursuits, and the bits and pieces of life suitable for the world wide web.

Speaking of life…big changes for the husband and I. The rumor mill has just been laughable to hear as it gets back to us the “reasons” people fabricate to make a good story. The lengths people have gone to in order to find “what’s up?” with us is beyond disappointing. Being probably two of the straightest shooters on the planet, I just fail to understand why grown adults won’t come and talk to the source directly. Integrity? Mind boggling. Shows you who your true friends are, I suppose.

Anyway, husband and I have freely made the decision that we needed to make some big life changes–probably one of the hardest decisions we have ever made in our marriage and one that was not come to lightly, but it’s needed. It’s hard, there’s some grief, I’d be lying if we weren’t a little scared, but also very excited. We get to care for families and ourselves in deeper ways, and that means the world.

This is the busiest month I can ever remember, even more so than any holiday season and all the responsibilities that it entails, trying to put all the pieces of transition in place for those that will follow in our footsteps so it is as seamless and smooth as can be, as well as make sure everything is in place for our move forward so that we have the basic essentials ready for us to hit the ground running. Even in all the work, stress, sadness, and grief–there’s joy. I can’t wait to embark on this next step with my husband.

Several years ago, as I began this journey, I had an encounter with a temporary employee that had known me before I made any changes in my life, and about a year later. She paid me the greatest compliment I had ever received up to that point, “you smile more than you used to.” Once we made this final decision in moving forward, even in the hard choices, someone I care for looked at me in conversation a couple weeks ago and said, “I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time.”

Joy. It’s not happiness, it’s joy. Joy in the midst of life and the circumstances that we can’t control, but God has such plans for our lives that blow our minds when we just follow Him in obedience. He has been so faithful to us in this process and we just continue to trust. Even in the sadness of leaving behind what we know, even in the moments of fear of what we don’t know. Trust and obey. He’s got it covered.

I was listening to the radio on the way to the office the other day and Skillet’s “Awake and Alive” came on from my playlist:

I’m at war with the world and they
Try to pull me into the dark
I struggle to find my faith
As I’m slippin’ from your arms

It’s getting harder to stay awake
And my strength is fading fast
You breathe into me at last

I’m awake I’m alive
Now I know what I believe inside
Now it’s my time
I’ll do what I want ’cause this is my life
Here, right here
Right now, right now
Stand my ground and never back down
I know what I believe inside
I’m awake and I’m alive

It’s my time…God is with us, God goes before us.

Stay tuned for more in a few weeks as the dust settles and the new website launches. The new homepage for Heart & Sole is pretty spiffy if I do say so myself (especially since I have ZERO website building experience beyond what I’ve done here) and will have pages for all of the different services available. Don’t want to overwhelm with all the info at once. Also, the most up-to-date information is available on my business Facebook page, facebook.com/heartandsolefit

And more coming on this blog about me, my comeback from my hysterectomy recovery, and the road back to fitness as I prepare for my races this year. More later.

Falling For Christmas

Okay, so, I never expected a Hallmark-like Christmas movie to teach me some lessons that I needed over the last couple weeks, but if you’re in the mood for a predictable Christmas romance with a side of sports psychology, Falling for Christmas on Amazon Prime has your name written all over it.

So let’s recap the last month.  A month ago tomorrow I had a hysterectomy (and the peasants rejoiced!  Best decision ever–long overdue, I’m beyond pleased with the choice to have had this surgery).  Because I don’t make any choice lightly, I knew all about the recovery going in…that I’d be going from full throttle to zero and having to build up again.  Looking at the calendar and hearing the words, “you won’t be permitted to WALK any distance until Thanksgiving and don’t even think about getting on your bike or swimming until Christmas” stung a lot.  It also made a lot of sense too because with the workload this time of year, I could be easily distracted in other directions to hold off from the depression of not engaging in the stress-releasing activities I’ve come to love and crave.  I put the plans in place.  I built up the mental arsenal.  I surrounded myself with the people I needed to keep me sane and positive in the recovery process–to remind me of the end-goal.  I was ready to attack this new training, if you will.  “I got this.”

Face Palm.

The best laid plans.

Don’t get me wrong.  Surgery went off beautifully, sans an allergic reaction the night following surgery from some latex products and adhesives used.  But was I prepared?  Kinda…

First of all, I’ve decided never listen to a man when it comes to the initial stages of healing from a gynecological surgery.  No offense guys, great surgeon and all, I chose him for a reason (because I fired more than one before settling), but…just…no.  Thank goodness I’m not stupid enough to have just one professional on my team and my surgeon isn’t the “lead doctor” I deal with anyway, so, I was able to get some other care as needed, but let’s just say it was rough.

Based on the recovery timeline I had been given, I anticipated being in less pain, more mobile at home, and more “with it” sooner than I was…not the case.  I also managed to bust open one of my incisions less than a week post-op because instead of traditional sutures they used dermabond (basically surgical super glue.  Dumb.).  As I was barely transitioning back to the office for just a couple hours at a time (all I could handle with the fatigue), I was hit with intubation-induced bronchitis from my weakened immune system (shout out to you, valley fever!) and just within the last couple days have been okay to shed the super attractive medical mask that I’ve had to wear in public to protect myself.

At my first follow-up appointment I was cleared to start walking short distances as I felt up to it (ahead of schedule mind you, because my physical healing was looking good), but this was smack in the middle of the bronchitis, so I wanted nothing more than the coughing to stop so I could sleep more.  I think I’ve slept more in the last month than I have in the last six combined.  Didn’t start walking until a few days later, and let me tell you, I almost cried…it was tortuously beautiful to move my body after being in bed and barely moving for weeks.  You don’t realize how you take movement for granted until you truly can’t do it.

Eating was another awful challenge.  It has only been in the last week that I have really had a regular appetite again.  I really had no hunger sensation, nothing sounded good, no cravings, and it was so hard to figure out when and what to eat initially after surgery.  Then once I got sick it was worse because I just felt so miserable!  I got really concerned because I was losing weight quickly which didn’t make sense because other than working in my office, I was in bed close to 20 hours the majority of days.  It’s still messing with my head because even though I’m moving again and up a bit longer these days (hey, I can put in six hours now, eight on a split shift with a nap), and my body/abdomen is still swollen from surgery for likely a few more weeks, I’ve lost upwards of twenty pounds.  That took a LOT of talking down from one doctor and my sports registered dietitian to understand it was normal and okay!

Fast forward to today…I’m really pleased that I’m able to move more as it brings a lot of relief to the discomfort that I still feel.  Sitting upright for long periods of time is very hard on me physically and makes me quite fatigued as well.  Naps are still my friend.  Walking really helps to stretch out those uncomfortable areas and I’m able to walk once or twice a day a fair distance…time to build stamina again.  I’m also able to do some very modified strength and yoga workouts (have to be careful of my 10lb lifting limits, not engaging my core too much yet, and twisting).  Next week starts a new phase of recovery/PT that will incorporate some new workouts to help with all that jazz.  Itching for my bike desperately…but I’m listening, and won’t ride until I’m told…but I’m certainly weighing the options on what Sufferfest ride will be first!  Swimming, eh, no love lost there…it’ll still be there when I’m ready and cleared for it, especially with my immune system right now, I want to be 100% positive all is healed and okay before getting in the pool anyway.

Also, I’m beginning to see some of the intended benefits from surgery start to peek out despite recovery not being as linear as I had hoped.  There are several conditions linked to my overall health and wellness, and some other concerns that spawned the final decision to finally bite the bullet and have this surgery (it’s been a long time coming), and again, so glad I did.  As I continue to recover, build my strength and stamina, and enter into my next racing training cycles fully healthy, I am extremely interested to see some of the changes and new surprises my body will have in store for me.  It’s exciting.

I’m not a new year’s resolution person.  We all know I’m a calculated and systematic goals kinda gal, but mark my words: 2020 is going to be a year like no other.  Buckle your seat belts, friends, there’s so much more to come. Stay tuned.

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Failure, You Don’t Own Me

Well, the song goes a bit differently…

Music is one of those things that soothes my soul, makes me tick, heightens my awareness, engages my brain, transports me to another place, and everything else in between and so much more than that.

I go through cycles with the songs that really hang heavy in my mind and heart…it might be the lyrics that speak to me in a way that nothing else can, or the music itself provides something that words themselves cannot.  Whatever it is.  Music is an essential part of my everyday life.

So, the song goes, “Fear, you don’t own me/There ain’t no room in this story…Telling me what I’m not/Like you know me well guess what?/I know who I am/I know I’m strong/And I am free/Got my own identity” (The Break Up Song, Francesca Battistelli)

I have a lot of fears in life.  I’m scared of a great many things.  Many things.  I have often been scared of failure…but, I’m learning maybe, just maybe, that in the failure comes the building blocks for so much greater potential.

It’s no big secret this year has not gone my way.  I had plans and goals, and well, life had other plans.  Valley fever wreaked havoc on my body in more ways than I possibly could have imagined, including having to rebuild my lung capacity and now going to have to completely revisit my endurance fueling plan because I’m having a lot of problems being able to take in anything after a certain point without becoming ill and also suffering a lot of dehydration that I’ve never experienced, even from perceived “easy” efforts. (As I sit here on the couch after yesterday’s 50 miles that for the majority was well executed, and an absurd amount of fluids taken in through recovery thus far, and still very much in the throes of severe dehydration and extremely uncomfortable).  I overextended a tendon in my ankle back in August that still isn’t pleased, and I have an ongoing ITB/psoas issue (possibly linked to my old SI problems) that I need to get looked at…all on the docket to get addressed in my “abundance” of time.

I’ve had a few finishing lines this year, but I’ve had more DNFs than I’m pleased with.  It’s been frustrating to say the least.  More tears of anger at myself than I care to admit, and that I’ve shared with others.  I’ve had to learn the limits of my body.  When to push, when to stop, and how to accept those limits.  I’ve never had to do that in my life because I’ve never actually HAD the desire to push my body to the brink–to see what I am fully capable of.  And I’m BEYOND tired of platitudes and sad faces on social media to the point that I’ve contemplated more than once trashing those mediums, even with a tighter circle on some platforms.  Thank goodness for the few I trust that can reel me in…I know many don’t understand that haven’t been in my position, so shares are perceived in many different ways than actual intent.  It absolutely kills me when people have the expectation that I’m “supposed” to be upset when I say I’m fine or say “it’s okay” when I say something otherwise.  No, it’s not okay if I’m not okay.  I’m entitled to how I feel…anyway, different soapbox for a different time.

But, even in failure, I’m still breathing (an amazing Green Day song, BTW), and have accomplished a few things this year that I can be proud of:

  • Lower Body Fat Percentage/Higher Lean Muscle Mass: Dude, my body is WEIRD! I don’t know myself anymore and that is one of the scariest things in the world.  I have shapes in places I’ve never had shapes, muscles popping out from the padding protection program (I’ll never have six-pack abs, nor do I desire to be ripped, but hey, I’ve got a little baby four-pack and it’s so cute!), and some definition in some areas despite others.  Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE so much of my appearance–the sagging skin on my upper arms is ridiculous, it actually sags further than the probable circumference of my arm.  Gross.  And the loose skin on my thighs…it just gets worse the stronger my legs get, and so the pooling at my knees is even worse.  Nasty.  What blows my mind is the majority of my clothing now is L/XL.  It’s not about the tag in my clothing…but dang, guys, I used to wear a 5XL.  Insane.
  • Higher average cycling speed:  I can blame the fancy new wheels all day long, but…my tri coach won’t let me use that excuse anymore.  I can deny it all I want, apparently I need to admit I’m improving.
  • Strength and flexibility like I’ve never had before: I won’t bore you with the recent stats, but dang…my leg power is pretty impressive.  Upper body, no surprise, I’m not becoming spiderman anytime soon. And flexibility? I’m a pretzel baby! Other than my neck to the left, range of motion on my body is pretty stinkin’ great except for the hindrance caused by the excess skin from weight loss (gag).

I was reminded this morning in some reading that I was doing of this quote by Jennifer Dykes Hensen, “If you want to get healthy, you can’t focus on just your physical body. You can’t focus on just your mind or emotions either. Every part of your being is intertwined with every other part. Complete health will remain elusive until you take a holistic approach and address your entire self—body, mind, emotions, and spirit—as a whole. That said, your spiritual health is the foundation on which a life of wholeness is built. If you aren’t spiritually healthy, you will always struggle with your body, your mind, and your emotions. To get from where you are to where you want to be in any and every area of your well-being, you have to engage with God and take responsibility for your spiritual health.”

This is what I’ve been saying all along.  It’s not just about the physical.  This never started out to be a physical journey.  I’m down to single digit days now in counting down to evicting the babymaker and I’m going to be entering my first “off-season” of movement since I started all of this.  Not gonna lie.  There’s fear.  Not in the surgery (I’m actually morbidly excited for this because of everything it’s going to improve–literally the doctor ran out of room on one form for the laundry list of diagnoses necessitating the surgery on the consent forms last week.  It’s time, lol), but for the downtime.  It interrupts the routine.  I like my routine.  I like the comfort of routine.

But, in God’s infinit wisdom, it’s time to shake things up…change.  I HATE CHANGE.  (We all know this) So, it’s back to the drawing board–but, I have my foundations.  I have my firm belief that being whole requires strong spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical health.  And in building that foundation the last several years, I’ve got the people, places, and things that are going to get me through.  There’s a plan. (And probably a few friends I’m going to whine, cry, and breakdown on in the meantime too, HA!).  I’m going to physically heal.  I’m going to focus my time and energy in some other areas and my body rests and heals, and personally and corporately/within the Body of Christ–God’s doing some big things too.

Not going to lie, this “season” scares me a bit.  Okay, a lot.  But the anticipation outweighs the fear.  I’m ready to hit it square in the face and take the bumps and bruises along the way.  Things will physically ramp up again after Christmas, but there’s a lot to look forward to non-sportswise too.  God’s been working on me in a big way, and it’s time to shine off the race course.

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I want the badassery (#sorrynotsorry, there’s really no christianized version of that word) that I feel when I kit up to translate over to everyday life.  There’s a confidence, clarity, and freedom I have when I’m out training/racing that I want to shine through in the daily.  I’m going to start fighting for that to come out of myself.  I’m not “just a…”  I’m worth more.

“And all those things I didn’t say/Wrecking balls inside my brain/I will scream them loud tonight/Can you hear my voice this time?/This is my fight song/Take back my life song/Prove I’m alright song/My power’s turned on/Starting right now I’ll be strong/I’ll play my fight song/And I don’t really care if nobody else believes/’Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me” (Fight Song, Rachel Platten)