Return to Widow Groups

IMG_8075I recently have returned to the widow message boards. I do this every once in awhile. This time I didn’t do it to seek out assistance or to vent. I needed a reminder of the men and women who I share this tragic emblem with. I’m a part of a club, and I need to remember to offer support and guidance to my fellow wids.

I have been having trouble dealing with my boyfriend’s deployment, and I have been feeling lonely, but it’s nothing like when George died. Nothing could ever compare to that. But having an empty bed again does hurt.

I’m looking to put together a grief group here in Montgomery. It’s not just aimed at those who are going through loss of a spouse. I’m learning that grief comes in all different forms. I do think I’m having grief issues connected to the deployment. I also think the change of career is triggering some emotions too. And it made me think of all the other wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends who are going through deployment, or other life changes.

I also think this article I just wrote on berries triggered grief. Good grief that was a hard article to write. Har-har-har.

George would be proud of me, I know he would. So I keep that in the back of my mind. This hiccup will pass and I will learn another valuable life lesson when it’s all over. And then I’ll be that much better pushing forward.

Career Change

IMG_4422It might be time to edit my website…

I’m no longer coaching college lacrosse. For the last 10 years it has been my life, my everything, my first true love. But about 2 weeks ago I met with my athletic director and it was decided that this might not be the route I should take.

I’m not upset about this. I’m excited, I’m seizing opportunities left and right, I’m ENJOYING this stress-free time. I no longer need to censor and edit myself, I can finally go out in public to places where if someone sees me acting carelessly it doesn’t reflect on some other greater entity. There’s no more perpetual worry about what my players are doing or acting, did I respond to the recruit, what events am I signed up for. I feel a tremendous amount of relief.

I’ve been applying for jobs in new career fields. I had a phone interview today with an insurance company. I’ve never really worked in finance, but I didn’t hide it and they seemed more interested in my personality than my experience. They told me to call them back if it’s a job I’m interested in pursuing. I interviewed yesterday with a non-profit. I want to learn how to grant-write and help create a better place for people to co-exist in. I have an in-person interview on Thursday. I’ve been offered a handful of writing freelance jobs. Finally using my master’s degree the way it was intended to. Finally, I am working as a group fitness instructor and really taking the time to expand my knowledge and skills by reading more and more about fitness trends, techniques, and concepts.

I am happy. I am relaxed. I am excited for this new adventure.

My cortisol levels has decreased tremendously too. I can tell because my belly is flattening out, and my skin is clearing up. Yeah, I’ve managed to lose inches since departing Huntingdon. All this sudden change has been interesting to say the least. In addition, my boyfriend is deployed so I’m by myself here in Alabama. But my support system has been coming through. I’ve been running with a running group. Going out with my kickball teammates and friends. I feel like I’m living a life that I was supposed to be doing and it made me think about the first season without George.

I believe the luster began to wear off the moment he died. That 2014 team is forever my favorite because they saved my life. They gave me a purpose. But most importantly, they inspired me to find new passions, to find meaning in all of the madness going on around me. And college coaching, for right now, is not my purpose. Maybe I’ll move back towards it at another time, but it’s time for me to figure out how to build my own nest.

50 Mile Challenge

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My former college teammate and I have been doing this monthly challenge for years. We try to get 50 total running miles in a month. We will self report to each other and it was a way to help kick start our fitness regiment. It has helped me reach the fitness level I am at now. I feel healthier than I ever have before and I want to share it with others.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

So many people want to get in shape, lose weight, get fitter but they might not know where to start. But with doing a challenge it provides a little structure, plus being a part of a group setting allows for greater results and has proven it allows for a higher percentage in reaching goals.

Setting up daily goals in the days and weeks after my husband passed away provided me with a purpose. It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day because I felt self-motivated and I knew if I hit those little milestones eventually it will turn into a habit. With this 50 Mile Challenge, I want to pass along the lesson I learned and gained. I want to help others reach their goals too.

How will I help you and others reach their goals? Well Facebook of course! It’s self reporting style, and there’s more and more joining the challenge each day. Do you want to start on your journey to bettering yourself?

Check out my 50 mile challenge! Begins February 16 and ends March 31. 44 total days to get 50 total miles running or walking.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

Also check out my Instagram at @flippingsteier

Cycle for Survival Alabama edition

So this past Saturday, January 28th, I organized the first Cycle for Survival in Alabama at the gym I teach spin at, Metro Fitness. It was successful and I was super pleased with the turn out of support!

I’m not going to go into detail about the event, but I want to discuss the importance of Cycle for Survival to me.

Cycle for Survival gives me so much hope, excitement, strength and focus. I truly believe in what they are doing for the developments in treating rare cancers, and I also like love the feeling it provides me leading up to the event and after. It gives me goosebumps knowing that in a day, so many people around the country are also supporting and raising awareness and funds for rare cancer research. It also gives me time to reflect and think about all the lessons, joys, and triumphs I shared with George. He too loved participating in Cycle for Survival. So when I’m on the bike, I feel connected with him, and on the days of Cycle for Survival, I feel like I am working for him. I am pedaling stronger than I ever had before, because I want to make him proud.

This year in Alabama, I didn’t have my closest friends around for support, I didn’t have my family nearby, but I did have a community there. I really appreciate the generosity of the people in Montgomery and beyond. Without their support this wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. We have neared the $3,000 mark and it’s a fantastic feeling to know that this money will go towards saving someone’s life and making a difference.

Each year around this time, I make new memories with George and it helps propel me forward. Allows me to feel stronger and I know the money raised is going toward something meaningful and will offer strength to others battling cancers.

I love Cycle for Survival.

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Using Food to Heal

When the going gets tough, we tend to flee to the pantry. Grab a bag of chips, Oreos, candy, whatever it may be to try and eat our emotions. Or when a routine we’re familiar with gets broken and the fill the empty time we start drinking more, or snacking when we’re not even hungry. Does this seem familiar to you?

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Sometime we try to hide behind food. Eat to heal our pain and to shun the world away. But if we’re increasing our consumption and not countering it with increased exercise, doesn’t that just draw more attention to us? Receiving unwanted glances when we are at the grocery store, or a judging sigh from a colleague when ordering at a restaurant?

I’m guilty of using food to heal. I am no exception to this. Right now my world is spinning since my boyfriend left for training and soon will be leaving for his deployment. I feel the same uneasiness and the flighty thoughts are reappearing. The need to stay busy, to occupy every minute of every day with something has returned. So has the stress eating.

I’ve been craving sweets before bed. Almost like the sugar will provide me the same comfort that a warm body next to me will do. Some nights I’m stronger to resist than others. But there’s one thing I have learned over the years and that is there has to be boundaries. There has to be a limit to what is consumed. I do not diet because I don’t like to restrict, but I am mindful of what I consume. And I’m also aware that though the short term satisfaction might be ideal, the long term will not be.

The cravings are a feeling of losing control. I can control food, and how I react to it. If I had sweet snacks late at night, the next morning I make it my duty to perform 60-90 minutes of exercise. That way the calories I consumed can be incinerated quickly. This is my revenge against unwanted calories.

Stress eating does get the best of me once in awhile, but I make sure to have the weapons to combat it. Eat foods dense in nutrients, fuel my body correctly just in case those late night cravings happen. I also have realized when I make my own meals, I have less of these cravings. Like after George passed away, the feeling of making something gives a sense of accomplishment, so even though there’s a sense of loss right now and I’m trying to reestablish routines, I still can manage my personal reaction to what is going on in my own world and head. Nothing is too big to handle, just the effort level might be more than what we’re looking to give. But then what kind of sacrifices are you willing to make to take another step toward your goals?

I am willing to sacrifice time and sleep. I’ll cut my sleep short to go for a run and I’ll take extra time to cook my own meals if the feeling of accomplishment is my reward rather than having regret, and more complaints on why I’m not hitting my goals.

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Away for Christmas, again

I have this tendency to be away from Connecticut around Christmas. The first year after George passed away I was in California, and the uncertainty and inability to control my emotions haunts me. I always figured I’d never feel that way again because his passing was so fresh. Well here I am, in Florida, sort of feeling the same way again. Not to the extreme, but reflecting and feeling a bit down.

I’m here with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and niece for the time being. Tomorrow I’m going to hop into my car and head west to St.Petersburg to see my grandmother. My oldest brother flies here in the next couple days. There’s so much unconditional love swirling around me, but my mind is unfocused. My thoughts are fleeting and skipping, kind of like how a rock hops on water. And then there’s that one thought that hangs on and it’s all I can think about. These thoughts that hang on are my insecurities. I know it. I have one which is sinking further and further. It’s making me mad, uneasy, upset, and for what good reason? There isn’t one. It’s stupid and petty, but it hangs there to piss me off and torture me.

George visited me in my dream last night. I wish I could remember the premise of it, but all that I do remember is I lost my engagement ring, and then I found it again. But it was too big for my finger, and I tried hard to hide that it no longer fit. I felt ashamed and embarrassed when I had to show him the ring. What does this mean? I always felt so safe with George, but this dream had a different feeling for me. When I first started losing the weight and transforming, I worried he would no longer recognize me. I am not the same woman I was when he was alive. I’m different now. Maybe this just indicates change and need to push forward. Whatever it means, I am moving along to the next great adventure tomorrow. And maybe along the way, I’ll know what my unconscious mind was trying to reveal to me.

Until then, I’ll lay back with my hands behind my head, Bodie at my feet and my mind skipping along the water until it finally finds the one thought I can sink into.248949_685832100299_1317340_n

Ask for a sign

I ask George for a sign and a sign I shall receive! I’m over the three year mark of being widowed, and I remember when I would meet other widows who are at the 3 year or beyond and wonder if they still think about their spouse every day.  The answer is YES!

Not a day goes by I don’t think about George. My mind still wanders to the times we had together. It drifts wondering what life would be like if he were alive. I wonder if he magically appeared if he would like this new, revamped version of his wife. I wonder if he would like the people I spend my time with. What his advice would be to me if I were to vent about my problems. I just wonder. And sometimes all that wondering manifests and the longing for him comes back and then in those moments where I feel weak, I walk outside in the cool air, gaze up at the shimmering stars and the crescent moon and ask George to give me a sign. Please let me know I’m not screwing up my life and you’re still with me.

I ask for a sign, and he delivers. Every. Single. Time. It’s uncanny, seriously.

Over the past month a few of my friends have asked me to go to the Camellia Bowl. It’s a college football game in Montgomery where two teams head to the city to compete. I’ve turned down the offer a few times, because I have little to no interest in going. Plus I’m moving on the day of the game. So the Camellia Bowl has not been on my mind whatsoever and has little impact on my daily activities. Then a work colleague mentions to me about a week ago one of the teams to play in the bowl game is practicing at Huntingdon. I asked him what team it was and he said it’ll be University of Toledo.

If my heart had a tail, it would be wagging nonstop. I’m grinning, even as I write this I’m smiling. It’s almost to the point of appearing manic, but I can’t help it, this is so bizarre! I couldn’t believe UT was going to be coming to Huntingdon. What are the odds! George’s sister went to UT and his family lives in Toledo! If it were Bowling Green I would’ve fainted. George went to Bowling Green, but you know what UT is just as good! Plus the UT mascot is the Rockets and George’s high school mascot at Bay Village was a Rocket too. I just cannot help but see this as a sign. He’s here, he’s with me, he’s watching over me to make sure I don’t crash and burn.

One thing I’ve mentioned and I tend to talk and look for George when I feel defeated. And I should look for him when greatness happens too. I need to get better at that. But for now, I can’t wait to see UT practicing out there on the stadium field, and know George has given me a little Holiday message this year.

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Pressing stress

November is such an interesting month. My birthday came and went, and in my professional life this is the most important recruiting month of the year. Plus on top of it all the third anniversary is waiting for me on the 25th. It’s been a bit of a task balancing it all. I’m excited, busy, but under it all there’s this stress building. It came crashing down on Friday when I knew I had too much on my plate. I had to sign a lease for my new house, but I had 4 recruits on campus doing overnights. I also was running my first recruiting showcase on Saturday. Plus I was still needing to manage my current players on the team and make sure they’re doing well in their lives. I crumbled, I crashed, I burned, but I made it through. Everything went smoothly.

This week has always been a little sad for me. Tomorrow will be the last night/day George is home with me. On the 15th he goes to the hospital 3 years ago, and then on the 19th he comes home to hospice care. These next 10 days are tough. Those memories are still so fresh, and I sometimes wish they would disappear. Why can’t I remember what happened in 2012 so clearly? Replace 2013 with memories from then? Actually I do remember 2012… I was recruiting, I went to the IWLCA convention and I wasn’t with George. I was doing my job. And there you have it, it’s this ongoing conflict I have with the most important aspect of my job: recruiting. It takes me away from my life, but it’s a necessary sacrifice I have to make in order to be successful. In order for my school and team to prosper. So I have come to grips with it.

I’ve also noticed that when times are good, I don’t think about George as much as a should. It’s when things take a turn for worse I think about him. I think about all the lessons I learned from him and how he impacted my life and affected the people around him. I look to him for answers, and wish he was around for me to talk to so I could flush and work out ideas. I feel bad I don’t think of him as much during the good times. But I do think about him when I get noticed. I always think he has his hand in some things that happen in my life.

For the months of November and December I was selected to this thing called ‘The List’ in RSVP Magazine. It’s a group of influential young professionals in the River Region the magazine highlights. I was highlighted for this issue, and the month is so serendipitous I can’t help but think he was involved. I just need to get to December.

Here’s the link: https://issuu.com/rsvpmontgomery/docs/novdecscreen16

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Positive mentality

The months after George passed I wanted so badly for time to rewind, and everything to go back to normal. Getting out of bed each day was a struggle, but there isn’t any other choice but to put both feet on the ground and keep moving forward. I’d be mindless through the days, running on autopilot, but when the fog lifted and realized I was powered by memories of a past life, I had to figure out how to remain positive under unbearable conditions.

This is when I started using fitness as a tool for displacing my grief and stress. Looking back, I believe I used and still use fitness as an avoidance, or an emotional replacement for my loss. But hurling my body up a hill when all I wanted to do was cry felt amazing. It gave me power, it allowed me to sort my thoughts and begin to believe tomorrow will be better than today. No matter how bad the grief was, the next day it would be better, and fitness showed me that open door. Clipping into a bike and sprinting for 30 seconds wasn’t enough, so the instructor challenged the class to 45 seconds. Could I do it? Of course, because I believed at the end it would be better then what it was at the time.

Believing you are worthy of happiness, worthy of satisfaction can change the outcome of any situation. But there’s a different between being worthy and entitled. Only one person can control how you feel. I had to make myself believe I could be strong again. Grief is powerful and how it’s channeled can mold your new life. I wanted to feel strong, so I chose to also transform my body to look strong. The changes also impacted my mind and self confidence. I knew I had to go on. If you think you can’t go on, you’re already defeated. Kill or be killed. So if you look forward to what’s around the corner, there might be a new lifestyle, adventure or path that awaits. Sometimes we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones, make necessary changes and see what will happen. Even in during the darkest days, there’s a sun behind those clouds.

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Breaking apart

imageSeeing that the last 6 weeks have been nothing short of a nightmare, I can only anticipate the beginning of this year will be a moderate reflection of those weeks. It’s become clear, after seeing candid pictures (see above) from yesterday’s alumni event, I look sad. Not a little sad, but really miserable. As if just waking up and reaching for a glass of water to only realize your right arm is missing. As this nightmare meanders forward, my New Years resolution is to find peace and learn to cope with what is now my new reality. To do so I need to take care of myself. I’ve been reading more, so far so good.

It is the first of the New Year and I’ve already cried about a half dozen times and it’s not even sundown yet. I am emotionally crippled and I no longer want to be. Yes, I’m depressed, but what am I doing to help myself? Nothing. I eat, cry, eat, do arbitrary mindless things, eat, write, cry, sleep. Then it’s more of the same the next day. I have let myself go, although many of my friends and family say I haven’t and that I just “look like I’ve gone through a lot.” That’s so vague. I feel unhealthy in every aspect of the word.

I’ve decided I want to take hold of my grief and turn it into something. I will make lists of what I want to accomplish in the day. Demands of myself because I should expect more. I am a strong woman and I need to break the binds that are holding me back from me being me. Basically I intend to break myself emotionally. There’s this dark cloud that hovers over me wherever I go and it’s about time it breaks apart and let some light come through.

Here are some lifestyle goals:

  1. For almost 2 years I was vegan and I felt the best when I was. When George and I found out he was dying we both jumped off. I intend on returning to a more plant based diet. Not as strict but I can no longer allow fear and death into my body until I no longer suffer from fear and death.
  2. I was a division 1 athlete and have been good about my workout regiments in the past. Not allowing myself to gain too much weight. Well I need to return to a workout regiment. Again, I stopped working out the day I found out George was dying and that was almost 4 months ago and on one hand I can count how many times I’ve worked out. I will do a minimum of 3 workouts per week to get myself back on track. I will edit this as seen fit.
  3. One positive from all this is I have been reading more. I will continue to read and write more. It’s a good mental boost and I like losing myself in it.
  4. I will go out with friends once a week. I’ve been known to be a recluse but I need to be a better friend. Friends are a pain killer.

Today I will plug away at what I’ve set up for myself as lifestyle goals. I plan in doing 100 push ups and 500 sit ups and doing Hip Hop Abs before the day is over.

Update: I accomplished my short term goals. I did the push ups and sit ups. I didn’t do hip hop abs. Instead I did yoga and at the end I started crying. It was a great release.