August 1, 2015

Moving on Up!

Yep, it is a GREAT day here in sunny and hot Phoenix. We had some summer storms yesterday, but nothing made its way to where we live. The skies were dark and musing, but in the end, they passed by us without shedding any tears! It is hot and humid this morning, but our daytime high is only expected to hit 102. What a relief! Yesterday it seemed like we were back in the 110s! It was hotter than you-know-what!

I passed a decent night last night, despite more dreams and night sweats. Sigh! Menopause is turning into a real bummer. Technically, I am in perimenopause - the period that leads UP to -- menopause. Menopause means a "pause" in "menses." So for menopause to occur, a woman has to go without a period for one whole year. I am not there yet, but my body seems to be getting closer to it. I have been praying for the end, you know, because of my issues with fibroids and heavy monthly cycles. I was getting to the point where I couldn't do anything, go out of the house, or stand up at work -- just for fear that I would experience what is called "flooding" (or a super heavy outburst during your cycle). I am trying to be "nice" and not go in to details, but for women who know what I am experiencing, then they know that MENOPAUSE is the most welcome of things!! I know the Lord has this timed right for me, and in truth, I don't know what is worse -- the heavy cycles and fear -- or the night sweats and hot flashes! Sigh! I guess if I had to choose, I would go with no period and hot flashes. It is pretty sucky either way, but it is a normal part of a woman's life, and now that I am 52, almost 53, I am right in the target zone for full on menopause. It will be a joy to go without that monthly cycle (well, for the past years it seems like it has been non-stop), to be able to wear white again, and to not fear breakthrough episodes. In many ways, I am looking forward to this next chapter of my life. No more pain, no more period. Hooray!

Plans for Today

So today is Saturday, and I have some things to do on my task sheet. I need to finish my syllabus for COM 203, and I need to start my critical review of a journal article (due on 8/7). I would also like to send an update to my professor on my research. My mind is not really on school work today as I am thinking about getting my hair cut for school. I have been growing out my pixie cut from last fall, and frankly, it is in that horrible icky stage. I need to do a color job for sure, and I need a new style. What I have is a shag that is all grown out. It looks awful, and I spend too much time each morning trying to make it work for me. I've been looking over Pinterest (I love that site) for pictures of styles I want to try next. I have worn my hair in many ways over the course of my life -- from pixie short to long, long layers. Now that I am in my 50s, my goal is to have a style that represents ME. I want to look my best, be youthful (as in fresh, happy, and confident), and also show professionally since I am a Professor now. My next style needs to be something that works with my hair, which is thick but fine. I am thinking of returning to the classic bob again. This time, though, I am thinking of an angled bob instead. I didn't like the all one length bob, which I thought made my face look really angular and long. Instead, I am thinking of something like this to start (for now):

I have a lot of layers to deal with so I realize that the stylist will probably have to cut most of it off. I don't mind so long as it grows into what I want eventually, which is this:

My longterm goal is more along the lines of a longer bob style. It will probably take me a year or so to get it to look like this:

I think I can wear this style well so long as it is cut properly and I keep my bangs. I had something similar back in 2014, but I didn't have bangs and my face looked very long and angular. Truthfully, I look better with shorter hair now. I used to be able to wear it very long, and I think I looked good that way. I guess as you age, the shorter your hair the more youthful you appear. I like wearing my hair short to medium length. The key has been to figure out the best cut for me. I think I have finally decided that it is a bob style, angled with bangs. This seems the best "look" for my oval/oblong shaped face.

I am debating whether I should go and get it cut today or if it is better to wait a couple more weeks and cut it right before school starts. Part of me thinks if I go today, then I will have more time to learn how to style it. The other part thinks that if I wait a couple more weeks, the stylist will have more hair to work with since my hair grows really, really fast. I guess it is up to me -- do I suffer with it for a couple more weeks -- or go do the deed today? Hmm…

I do have some errands to run. Lenny needs a new filter, and he is gagging for fresh water. I need to attend to his needs for sure. I also have that school work to do, and I made a commitment to begin my workout program today (Jillian Michaels "30 Day Shred" - oh am I crazy or what? Burn, baby, burn!)

The Year of "Carol"

Yes, 2015-2016 is going to be the Year of Carol. This is my YEAR to shine, and by that I mean, I am tackling the most difficult semester of my life, teaching a full load of classes, AND prepping for my qualification exams. I am one CRAZY WOMAN! Moreover, I am preparing for full-time teaching (praying for an open door), and I am getting my life in order -- taking care of business, making plans, and generally, taking back control of some areas that I let slide -- namely my physical condition. I am going to turn 53 in a couple months, and I have decided that I don't want to be in the condition I am in now for another year. It is not that I am overweight, but rather, it is that I am out of shape. I have tried to cover myself up, hide the fact that I have let myself go a bit. Yes, stress and overeating will do that to you, but it is also that I have stopped taking good care of my health for the past 10 or so years. I think a lot of it had to do with my living situation. I lived under constant stress, and I shut down to cope with it. I didn't think my life would ever change again. I thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life living in a very hopeless, sad, and depressing way.

Then God took charge (thanks be to the Lord) of the details and my life changed. I am finally, at age 52.5, feeling like myself again. I am experiencing dreams, desires, and delights like never before. I am empowered to take the reigns of my life and follow after the Lord. I am no longer content to sit idly by and let circumstances drive my bus! No, I am a woman with a mission, and I am determined to see it through. As such, I am starting to see how weak I am physically, how much I suffer because of my diet, and how poorly I feel because I don't workout. I have always made excuses about working out (like I HATE IT!) but the truth is that when I was younger, much younger, I worked out all the time. I ran, I biked, I swam, I walked, I climbed stairs. I was always active. I loved riding horses. I skied in the winter. I loved being out in nature. Then my life changed. We moved to Phoenix, and I found myself indoors all the time. Plus I was stuck at home with a child, and I rarely got out anywhere but to Walmart or Target. My days were filled with childcare, and while I loved being a SAHM, I found my life to be so limiting. I rarely did anything fun. I didn't go anywhere, do anything, and I started to give up on all my hopes, dreams and aspirations.

My Future Goals

So much has changed in my life over the past 5-6 years. I believe that the Lord has helped me to transition through each major change in stages. He has allowed me to process each new development, gain a foothold, and then learn how to manage the change so that I am not overwhelmed by it. Since 2010, my life has been one long series of transitions. The Lord has cared for me and graciously provided step by step guidance to help me deal with all the upset. I have learned so much from Him, and I have become a more settled, more confident, and more productive person because of His help and influence.

As I think back on all those changes, and the steps I took to get through them, I am reminded of the goodness of the Lord. In truth, He has held me by the hand and walked me through every single new experience. For instance, after I became single, the Lord showed me that my first priority was getting a job and moving out on my own. He provided part-time, then full time work. Next, He directed me to return to graduate school. Since that time, my life has been all about school and work. My desire to diet and exercise has been really hit or miss. My focus through much of the past couple years has been on my finances as I balance my needs between working adjunct and finishing a PhD program. Thus, with school/work causing me so much stress and the lingering health (perimenopause) issues, I haven't made much headway on improving my health (yet).

Then, just as I was getting really comfortable with all the change, just when everything seemed to be moving on at a steady clip, the Lord upset my little apple cart again. He brought me someone with whom I have enjoyed a special relationship. Yes, the Lord brought me a wonderful and caring man, someone with whom I imagine spending the rest of my life. As I process all of that change, I began to realize that my quality of life is hanging in the balance. God has given me a wonderful career as a professor, excellent education (almost finished), and now the opportunity for a new life (down the road). I've been thinking about that life, what it might look like, what it will entail, and I realize that I want to live it fully, completely, and with zest! I don't want to go through the next 20-30 years of my life feeling poorly, always in pain, and hiding weakness because I am not willing to do anything about it.

I made the decision to take charge of my health a few months ago. I was "plum wore out" and I was feeling so overwhelmed with perimenopause and the fibroids misbehaving. I knew I had to do something about my condition. Granted, there is medical intervention available, but I wanted to try and "heal myself" through holistic measures first. I read a lot online, studied as much as I could about the symptoms and how to manage them, and the same message came through to me:

  1. Get 8 hours of sleep every night (consistently)
  2. Each healthy food (no junk, no processed)
  3. Exercise daily
  4. Drink plenty of water
  5. Take supplements (vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and 6s, mostly)
How simple is that? I don't drink alcohol and I don't smoke. I do eat junk food, and I tend to overeat when I am stressed. I don't exercise at all, but I do try to drink water throughout the day. In all, it seemed that the biggest issues for me was my diet and exercise program (or lack thereof).

I had already followed Atkins once before and I lost 10 pounds. In truth, I have probably lost about 15 total over the past two years. My weight is stuck at 150, which is technically not overweight for my height (5'7"). It is just that carrying this excess puts strain on my back, and any strain causes pain for me. I was focused on the number for a long while -- just lose 10 pounds and you will feel better -- but lately I have realized that the number really doesn't matter at all. It is more about how you feel and look in your clothes. For me, I know that I need to tone and shape, build muscle, and generally bust the stress in my life. I can do this through exercise easily enough, and as a result, I will probably drop some of those extra pounds. What's more, if I eat healthy food choices, and limit my sweets to special occasions, I will probably hit my desired weight in a couple months, all without sacrificing too much food.

It seems like the Lord has waited until now, until the time when I needed exercise the most, to put it on my heart and mind. You see, if I just focused on getting in shape, well that would be fine -- but -- I am facing the most difficult and grueling semester of my life, and working out will HELP ME keep my sanity and bust the mental stress right out of me. So, the Lord knows His timing well, and He has put it on my heart to make this year the year I workout.

Taking control feels so good so long as what you are controlling is under the Lord's sovereign hand. I know that my life is in His hand, and everything I do is for His name and praise. I will work unto the Lord (Col. 3:23), and I will seek His approval, and not that of any man (or woman). No, I am getting in shape because it is the Lord's desire that I do it. I agree with Him, too, and I see that it is for my best, my good, my welfare to do so. I want to live a long, happy, and prosperous life (well, whole), and to do that requires that I take control of my health now. God knows what He is doing, and He has made a way for me to do it. Selah!

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