Emotionally inducing memories

IMG_0248Right now I’m at the Women’s Coach Alliance conference in Denver, Colorado. There’s an incredible aura throughout this entire event. Amazing speakers, strong women from all walks of life and different backgrounds. Today, I lost it and I do get embarrassed about it. But what people view as vulnerable, in actuality it’s my strength. Vulnerability would be me hiding from the truth. The inability to accept what has brought me to this point in my life. Being widowed is my fabric, and it makes me strong. It is not my weakness.

We had a sports life coach come up this morning to give her presentation and she talked about living our lives as 10s. Always aiming to live in the 10 moments. At that point she asked the room what are some 10 out of 10 moments. People discussed winning a championship, impacting players lives, getting married, birth of a child, etc. And my brain flickers with a story board of moments. All of them landing on 1 specific moment and that was when I spoke in Time Square for the kick off of Cycle for Survival on 9/19/14. What would’ve been my first wedding anniversary.

My stomach clenched, my heart began racing, my palms were sweaty. I was back reliving that moment as I sat in the back of the classroom watching her ask if there’s any other moments. My hand ascended up and I began telling the story and then the tears dribbled down my cheeks and my voice became lost in my throat. I could only display the emotional effect of that day. The power, the value, the meaning and the importance of standing in Time Square talking about the greatest love story there ever was replayed behind my eyes.

I recently wrote an article for Hope For Widows Foundation, check it out:

http://hopeforwidows.org/triathlon-grief-fear-strength/

But I’m getting more and more of these memories returning back to me and evoking such a tremendous emotional response. Is it because of the returning loneliness due to the deployment? Am I beginning to process grief? Did I not process it well enough the first time? I don’t know what’s happening to me. It might be because I’m out of coaching and for once I’m taking time to myself. I have no clue. But it’s a weird mixture of sadness, excitement, power, and resolution. I feel invigorated, refreshed and prepared for the next grand adventure to see where it’ll lead me.IMG_0235

 

 

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

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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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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Having Courage

Well with my time winding down here in New Jersey, I have decided to spend my Thursday mornings at SoulCycle, again. I’ll miss it, but hopefully the company will decided it’s time to set up shop in Montgomery. We’ll see. I’ve professed my admiration for this cult-like indoor cycling class many times-because it got me started on the road to a healthier lifestyle- but today my reigning #WCW for over a year, Erika, said something that really stuck with me. There was one song where we were turning up our resistance and over the blast of the music she asked the class if we were at our limit yet? I have never stepped away from a challenge so of course I reached down and turned the knob to the right at add more gear. But she continued to voice her encouragement to the class. “In order to know your real strength, what you can do, you need to go places you’ve never gone before and that will show your real courage. It takes courage to go further, to take a risk.”

After the class I told her I loved what she said because I felt like it related to me. Regardless of the upcoming move, there are situations in my life that I am encountering where I initial feel like I can’t do this. I’ve been on my own for over a year and a half, but I had a group of friends to support me in and around the NYC area. But now, I’m embarking on the next great journey. I’m looking to establish my own business when I never thought I could. I feel more stable than I ever have before. I look around me, and think about the future more. I am ready to be alive and carve my path.

The only way I can possibly describe my current mindset and feeling is for a long time I felt like I was chasing a shadow. I would walk a path and in front of me is a shadow of what I believed was me. Staring down at it’s every move and figuring a way to trap it and call it my own. The dark outlines, and same cadence and leading me to where I thought I need to be going. Leading me to where I was SUPPOSED to go. But now my gaze is ascending and the sun is shining above my head. I see the horizon, rimmed in gold, glowing so bright and in front of me is possibilities. I’m taking a risk, and with all my heart I know it will have great reward. Through this entire widow journey, I knew it would stretch me to my limit and then past it to find strength and hold on to it, but I never realized that I needed to find my courage to want to push along as well.

I LOVE the lessons that fitness and sport teaches. The structure and direction it provides cannot be rivaled.IMG_9996

Accomplishments

So 6 months ago, my life became very lonely and uncertain. Arguably it still is. The uncertainty of what my emotions and reactions still increasingly concerns me. Hence crippling anxiety, although it’s been better in the recent days. Last night I started thinking back about the past several months and was reading another widows cries for how she hasn’t been able to get her life back on track since her husband died in 2012. Sigh… I think my life is on some kind of track, but reading her grievances has me concerned that the worst has yet to come.

I do think a large part of the grieving process is to occupy your mind. To keep busy, so the claws don’t drag you back into a hole to leave you mangled and gasping for air. Here’s some of the things I’ve been able to do through the cloud of grief over the last 6 months.

  • Raised over $11,000 for Cycle for Survival to honor and ride for my beloved George
  • Attended a wedding
  • Travelled to California
  • Coached in a lacrosse recruiting showcase
  • Participated and attended the Super Bowl halftime show
  • Taught Circuit Training
  • Coached my lacrosse program to a 11-7 record
  • Discovered and continue to do SoulCycle
  • Lost over 5% body fat
  • Started Dating
  • Did 8 Polar Bear Swims
  • Attended a Broadway Musical
  • Attended a Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden
  • Attended two Big East Baseball Games
  • Watched one of my players be honored as NJ Female Athlete of the Year
  • Attended events at the National Arts Club
  • Moved to a new apartment
  • Started playing tennis regularly
  • Made new friends

These are just some of the thing I could think of right now. I know so much of it seems mundane, but grief is brutal. I’m in a good sense of mind right now, but by 2p I could be sitting in my office crying, that’s just the way it works. In December I would go into the office and just close my door, do work and cry. Now I’m outside playing basketball and tennis regularly with other coaches. I loved my old life. I wanted to spend a lifetime with George. But now I have a lifetime I HAVE TO LIVE without him. And I want to make sure that I’m actually living. I know that’s what he would want. He would want me to enjoy every day, even when I make bad decisions. Which does happen and I’ve omitted them off my list… Maybe they’re for another post.

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months. It really does feel like years ago was the last time I saw him.Image

First big W

Last post I mentioned how I was dreading going to Scranton, PA. George and I met in the Scranton/Wilkes Barre area and being back there so soon after he died felt exactly like what I thought it would feel like; horrible with barreling anxiety on top of it.

We got there Thursday night and my nerves were really tangled. I was excited for our game but yearning to get the trip over and done with. On Friday I woke up and started watching game film to distract my mind just hours before the game. As game time neared, I could no longer hide my anxiety from my team. I was shaking, tearing, and being very quiet. I suppose it could have been mistaken for focus but my mind wasn’t on the game. It was on how badly I wanted to leave the region, and how everything around me was painful reminders of my love.

When we got to the field, I was damn near trembling. I had written my line up and Scranton’s tendencies on attack, midfield and defense, and also wrote out my pregame speech. Reading the pregame speech is easily one of my favorite things to do cause I like firing the team up. But I barely mustered the words to recite their tendencies. I looked out at my team, and my hands could barely hold the notebook anymore. I put my head down and said, “I can’t read my speech, I can’t do this, my anxiety is horrendous. I want to win.” I grabbed my things off the bus, walked to the bathroom and locked myself in there for several minute just bawling.

Once the game was underway my nerves started to steady and I was just focused on doing the best as I could as a coach. Encouraging and correcting as the game went on. We ended up winning by 1 goal in the final 9 seconds.

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It’s the best W I’ve ever experienced so far as a coach. I’m the short one on the right.

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Anger Danger

I’ve read a number of widow boards that talk about the stages of grief and how people who are grieving tend to yo-yo through the stages. I always wondered which stage I was limboing at. But today there was no question about it, I had finally been introduced to the anger stage.

A couple times I had gotten angry, but it was a frustration kind of anger. A bitterness you can chalk it up to. But today was sheer rage. Every fiber in my body trembling from being so overcome with red hot anger. I went from zero to a million in a matter of nano-seconds, all because of an email I received from a fellow colleague.

My team is doing a community service event this Saturday, Cycle for Survival. I’ve mentioned it a dozen of times on here. Tomorrow is an event to kick off the weekend and it’s for all leaders to attend. I have practice during the event, and I was looking to switch times with another team so it wouldn’t interfere. I got one good reason why from a coach on why they couldn’t switch, but another reason I got from the other coach just triggered this black out rage.

When I read the words on the email that they couldn’t switch due to a party they were planning on attending with their significant other, my jaw dropped. Even if George was still alive and my situation had happened to someone else, I would switch. I would put my personal plans aside to help someone out. Especially if it was for community service, and for a something someone cares so deeply about. Cycle for Survival is not some hackneyed event that I’m doing so my team can say they did a community service event. I’m doing it in the memory and to honor my beloved George. It cuts me deeper than anyone could ever imagine. So reading those words on the email made me go insane. The coach came into my office and I went ballistic. Ringing off personal insults so they could feel how bad it stung me. When they finally called for a cease fire, I snapped back into reality and became aware of what was happening. I rushed out of my office an b-lined it for the bathroom. I cried for about 5 minutes until I could face the day again. But the damage was done.

I was shaking with rage, and couldn’t calm my nerves. A fellow W, recommended deep breaths and water, which I did, and it helped. Momentarily. I KNEW I had to apologize for my inappropriate comments, but I STILL couldn’t wrap my mind around this person’s reasoning. I think it’s so selfish, but am I being selfish? Is it selfish for me to assume people will step aside and let me do whatever works out best for me? That’s such an unrealistic assumption to make, but for some reason I think I’m DESERVING of that because of the horrible journey that is laid out in front of me. It hasn’t even been three months yet, for christ sakes. Cut me a goddamn break.

I finally apologized and explained that I never felt that kind of anger before, and that what I said was out of line. I didn’t even touch on their comments for not switching practice times, because I knew it would set me off again. Luckily another coach made the switch. I’m sure they heard the heinous words I was shelling out and thought I was crazy. Grief is making me crazy. I think I’m doing okay and then this happens. There was no control, and it just came on so quickly. I am scared. I’m scared of the next time anger rears it’s unforgiving head in my journey of grieving. I might not be as lucky.

I wish George was around so I could confide in him and seek out his advice. I don’t have a brain chemical imbalance, I have a bloody life imbalance.

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