Happy Birth Month

I spend most of my days (Monday through Friday) asking people to verify their birth dates to either give them test results, complete their appointment intake, discuss treatment options, or talk about anything confidential. Birthdays are bitter-sweet for many people. It’s a day to mark when our earthly journey began and to celebrate the lives we have lived so far along with the life we have yet to live. As you get older, birthdays sometimes become lackluster and lose their appeal. Many people decide not to celebrate them at all. I have always been a birthday enthusiast and celebrate the whole month of September as my “birth month”, but as I have gotten older (my last birthday in particular), I found it difficult to get excited about the day’s arrival.

When you are a kid, birthdays mean gifts, parties, and attention. When you reach the age of ten, you are finally “in the double digits”. Being a twelve year old means being a preteen. Thirteen is the beginning of teenage years. At sixteen you can get your driving permit. Being eighteen years old means that you are “officially an adult” and being twenty-one makes you legally able to drink and go to clubs (not that that has ever been my choice location to inhabit). But after that, birthdays kind of lose their meaning to some people. I have seen women worry about their 30th birthday approaching…and then their 40th. Working with women who are older than me means that I have heard all about “the change” that is menopause and any mid-life crisis that may arise. We focus so much on youth and beauty that sometimes it can be overwhelming to have your birthday as a reminder that your youth is slipping away.

Whenever I tell someone about my over-the-top celebration of my birthday, they are shocked and ask why. Let me tell you why…Because every year that I get to celebrate my birthday is another year that I made it out of this crazy whirlwind alive. It’s another year of love, laughter, happiness, tears, sadness, anger, frustration, heartbreak, excitement, growth, and so much more that I have accomplished. It’s another year of meeting new people, learning new things, and spending time with the people that I hold dearest to my heart. Sure, I am getting older, but why is that a bad thing? Some people aren’t lucky enough to ever make it to my age. I know that I almost didn’t. I could have been stuck as my sixteen or twenty-year-old self in the memories of those I have met, but instead I get to celebrate the life that I am so incredibly fortunate to live. I get to kiss my husband goodbye every morning, be frustrated and then in awe of my Mia puppy, pay bills for a house I call a home, and do my best to help the people around me. No, the sun doesn’t shine brightly every day, and yes, there may be rain clouds that curtain my perspective at times, but I am so grateful to be able to have those bad days because that means that I know what good days feel like too.

So this is my plea to you…please celebrate your birthday. Hell, celebrate your birth month, because life is too short to care about being older and too precious to not appreciate the little things. You have made it another year here on this planet and that’s worth celebrating.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Personal Fitness

Let me premise this by saying that I am not an exercise expert by any means. I am, however, someone who realizes the importance of being active. I have tried countless exercise plans and always find difficulty with following them. I will start off loving the regimen, but then will dread it a few days in. I will tell myself that “I don’t feel like it” and then I will end up not doing any exercise at all. So, recently, I learned that I need to just listen to my body and do what feels good to me that day. If you find yourself in an exercising slump, keep on reading.

  • Use your surroundings: One of my favorite new exercises only needs a staircase.  I put one foot up on the second step and my hands on the stairs where comfortable. Then I switch my feet (right on stairs and left on floor – left on stairs and right on floor). I will do this as fast as I can for as long as I can. It’s kind of like mountain-climbers, stair-climbers, and jogging all-in-one. Also, we have a metal bar in an open doorway (I’m not entirely sure what the intended purpose is, but it’s super sturdy) that I will attempt pull-ups on and do abdominal exercises with. You could also do “chair steps” by placing a sturdy chair against a wall and stepping up and then back down continually. There are so many opportunities for exercising while using your surroundings!
  • Cater to your time: When figuring out what you will do for exercise, you first will need to figure out how much time you have. If you only have ten minutes, you might not want to commit yourself to running three miles. You don’t need a ton of time to get active. Little bits of exercise at a time adds up if you are persistent. Even if you just have enough time to do fifty sit-ups now and a mile on the treadmill later, it is better than nothing!
  • Every little bit helps: Don’t have an “all or nothing” mentality. That’s something that I have learned to overcome. I always felt that if I couldn’t do a complete exercise routine, then what’s that point? A few months ago, before I started having some health issues, I was practicing handstands every day. That alone helped with my ab definition and that’s when I realized that the little things really do help. No matter how fun they may be.
  • Take it easy: Don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s been really difficult for me to start exercising again. I used to run at least three miles a day and use weight machines regularly. That was about four years ago. Now, running one mile is a maximum for me. Ten pound weights are comfortable. At first, I was mad at myself. I thought, “how could I let myself go” so badly? I hated the idea of exercising because I couldn’t accomplish what I used to. But then I realized that it was a process before too. I started off with one mile and worked my way up. I eventually cut my mile time down by over four minutes. But it was all a process. And it will be process to get back to where I was. So I am taking a deep breath and giving myself grace because life is a learning process and it’s not always up-hill.
  • Listen to your body: Some days I feel like doing ab workouts and walking/hiking outside. Sometimes I feel like running and/or jump roping. Other times, I feel like just relaxing and letting my body rest and that’s okay. I’ve learned a lot about my body over the past year. When I am frustrated or angry, I feel the urge to run. It’s almost like a craving. It’s my way of releasing tension and being able to relax. Find your release and figure out how your body communicates with you.
  • Love yourself through the process: Don’t wait until you hit your goal to love your body. Because once you hit that goal, there will always be another one. Learn to love yourself and your body now. “Flaws” and all. Your body is beautiful and this process is about feeling your best. This is your first step.

 

Exercise and fitness isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Find what works for you and what your body needs.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Date Nights on a Budget

Date nights are so important for healthy relationships. When you first start dating, your relationship is typically comprised of dinners out, going to the movies, and a million other moments where the two of you get to have fun and enjoy each other. Once you have been together for a while and are living together (and maybe even have children), the stress of real life might start to take a toll on your relationship.

This is why it’s important to specifically schedule time for just the two of you to go out. Whether date night becomes a weekly, biweekly, monthly, or even bimonthly thing, it gives you both some time together to look forward to. There are a million-and-one date night ideas that you can find online, but some of those glamorous ideas can get a little pricey – especially if you have to factor in child care.

Here is a list of budget-friendly date night ideas that are Liz approved:

  • Unplugged – Spend a night together at home with no electronics. Put your phones away and turn the television off. This could mean cooking dinner together, playing a board game, or having a bonfire in your backyard with just the two of you.
  • Brewery tour – Tour a local brewery and buy a sampler of beers to share. This date night teaches you about the art of beer-making (one of my husband’s passions) and you will get a better appreciation of the final product.
  • Sporting Event – Go to a college basketball game, a local baseball game, or an AHL (hockey) game. Tickets are relatively cheap and you might even be able to find coupons online for tickets BOGO or for a discount.
  • Picnic – If you have a day off together, it is the perfect opportunity to pack a lunch/dinner, find a beautiful scene, and enjoy your time together with your favorite foods.
  • Hiking – Enjoy the outdoors with the benefits of exercise. Do you have a favorite trail or a place you have been wanting to check out? Now is the time! Bring some snacks (water too) and find a spot to sit and relax on your hike. Take the time to talk about your dreams and where you hope to be in the years to come.
  • Go for a Drive – We do this a lot. Just get in the car, fill up the tank, and drive. Turn onto roads you haven’t before, look for places to go back to sometime, and enjoy your significant other…even when obnoxiously sing every song on the radio (my poor husband)
  • Window Shopping – There is nothing wrong with aimlessly roaming around stores. We have had some of our biggest laughs looking at bizarre products and enjoying holiday decorations.
  • Movie Night – Rent a movie from your local RedBox or off your smart television to watch together. The best part is that you don’t have to sneak your snacks into the theater. You can make or buy whatever food you want and enjoy the time together.
  • Tea Time – Find yourself a little cafe and enjoy some tea or coffee while chatting about your hobbies, dreams, and bucket list. We sometimes sit and actually write down a list of things we want to see and accomplish in our lives. Putting it on paper together not only puts us on the same page (pun intended) with our aspirations, but helps us to grow closer knowing that we are striving for the same things.

 

The best times are those spent with the ones you love. It doesn’t matter what you do when you are together, but schedule time to get out of your normal routine and see each other in a new light.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Boudoir Photography

I have learned a lot about body-image and self-love through boudoir photography. For about a year I focused my photography primarily on boudoir photography and I loved it. Photographing women in a vulnerable situation was a great opportunity to alter their self-image and hopefully grow their self-esteem. I loved when women would get their photos and message me to say, “Liz, I have never felt as beautiful as I did at the session or looking at these photos.” Or when they couldn’t believe the photos were of them (even though I would do very minimal editing). It was one of the most rewarding things that I have done thus far.

Each woman was beautiful in their own way and it was awesome to see them transform throughout the session. Typically the women would be nervous (understandably) at the beginning of the session. And then as we continued to talk and photograph, they became visibly more confident and comfortable with their body.

I found that the more I did these types of photo sessions and saw women begin to accept and love themselves, the more comfortable I became with myself and my body. Working on photos of women of all shapes and sizes that were each gorgeous, made me realize that there is no one true “perfect body type.” Each woman, regardless of how perfect their body would seem to society, had a part of their physical appearance that they did not like.

I think we, as women, need to not only practice more positive self talk, but also need to tell the women around us how beautiful and important they are. I believe that practicing positive peer talk will make it easier to see ourselves in a more graceful light. We are our own worst critics. I know that I would never talk to or think about the women in my life the way that I think about myself at times. That’s something that needs to change.

We need to start uplifting those around us and maybe in turn we will start thinking more positively about ourselves. It is all about a positive mindset. Get yourself in the routine of thinking more positively (no matter how difficult it may be at times) and you will find yourself in a healthier and happier mindset.

Fake it until you make it.

Love Always,

Elizabeth