This post was supposed to be a follow up to my At Home Goals post from when lockdown first began. It has morphed into a larger reflective piece since due to some necessary rescheduling of content, this post goes public on my 48th birthday.
As predicted, I did not master Chinese or HTML and my garage looks worse than it did when the virus began (in our defense, we began to do home improvement projects that have resulted in us needing to use the garage, so I am chalking this one up to a win). The false eyelashes are still sitting in the box and the messy bun is still my go-to up-do, but I have found these past few months rather productive.
Body, mind, and soul speaking, these are the things I learned over these past few months, combined with things I have learned over the past 48 years:
Body. I finally found an at-home workout that I love. For those who did not read the first post, in order to stay healthy and active during lockdown, I signed up for every IG exercise program that was offering a free trial knowing I could drop what I didn’t like before I was charged. The one that stuck and I am still sticking with is the Tracy Anderson Method. I have always been an active person. I try to stay active for health reasons, but as a lot of women can relate, a lot of my motivation was to try and achieve a better body that resulted in my focusing on a few “problem areas” that never seemed to budge no matter the program. I began to see real changes in my body after about a week of doing Tracy’s program. Things that did not budge no matter what I did. Things I know are hereditary (thank you, mom, for the tendency to accumulate fat on my hips).
The philosophy behind her method is concentrating on working the smaller muscle groups, rather than the larger ones most other programs focus on. I do believe this is why I never saw the results I wanted (a squat by any other name is still a squat). Just by holding your body properly, your core is engaged, so it really does involve your entire body. But Tracy’s method involves the mind as well. She calls exercise “conversations with your body,” and idea helped get acquainted with my body, make friends with those problem areas, and appreciate the fact that my body is healthy at a time when your health is nothing to take for granted.
I was feeling burned out on my usual exercise routines before the pandemic hit. Heck, I was a bit burned out on life before the pandemic hit. Taking the time to refocus on exercise and healthy living in general, as well as finding an inspiring, new-to-me program helped cement something we talk about on the blog in regard to fashion – but it works for my life in general. We have said that sometimes confidence starts with the clothes. It certainly does not end there, but it can be that first step. Think wearing the perfect power outfit for a job interview or negotiate a raise. Will the outfit get you the job? No, but it can help you feel confident enough to promote yourself, your experience, and skills that will. As I said, I was not feeling that great mentally for many reasons and menopausal hormone changes did not help.
I only began to feel better after recommitting to an exercise program to help keep the COVID 15 from locking down on my hips, belly, and rear end. Once the physical started to feel better, the mental soon followed suit. The positivity of finding an exercise program that made me excited to get moving again reverberated through my mood and even helped my hormones (including the hormonally induced insomnia!). I know that a healthy mental outlook should not be dependent upon how my bootie looks in a pair of vintage Levi’s, but if that is the impetus to get said bootie up and moving to release the endorphins, feel better inside and out, as well as get a good night’s sleep, so be it.
Side note. I finally found a brand I love. Not only does it accommodate my larger, less perky girls, but it is cute and affordable. What can I say, Target did it again. The two outfits I am wearing below are both Joy Lab by Target and I love them. The quality is great, and the few times pieces accidentally made it into the dryer, they did not shrink.
Side note II. Would anyone be interested in a sports bra review from a woman whose 36Ds used to be nice until two kids, multiple decades and gravity got ahold of the situation? Would you also be interested in a more in-depth review of all those IG exercise programs I tried?
Mind. I used to think there are people out there who had a special skill to “manifest” the life they want. I have even said the following when talking about some truly inspiring people I am fortunate to call my friends:
“Well, they are manifesters. They know how to manifest things out of thin air and I just do not have that ability.”
For the past few years, I have been working with an empowering empath who helped me deal with many things, but also to help me have the confidence to finally step out from behind the camera and launch this blog. Colette has taught me many, many things, but one of the most insert-mind-blowing-emoji-here things was how wrong this thought process was. I will never forget when she simply stated, “you can propel yourself forward with positive energy or negative energy. That is a choice.”
Are there any scuba divers reading this? You know that sound that echoes in your ears during your final few seconds of ascent, when your head hits fresh air and your ears give their last, “pop”? I actually heard this sound when she said that. These manifesters are amongst the most positive people I know. Coincidence? I do not think so.
I began to realize, not that your mindset affects your outlook on life, but that so much of our mindset is a choice. I have given away my power when it was a choice. I have let fear stop me from trying things when giving in to the fear was a choice. Now I start each day listing positive choices in my thinking that will result in productivity, instead of taking a passive role in my mindset. I am not a victim of my mind. I have a choice to listen to negative self-talk or tell it to shut the hell up. And I am choosing to tell those thoughts to do just that.
Soul. I began to really lean into my true purpose. About five years ago, I made a big career change (a story for another blog post). But a few months ago, I left my final “corporate job” because it was affecting my health (I have autoimmune issues – also a story for another blog post) which was affecting my mental wellbeing. For a bit of time this past summer, I did not have a day job to go to, or Zoom to, as it were. As this is not my first time at the SAHM rodeo, I knew I would not have all this extra time to concentrate on the blog. I knew I was going to prioritize my kid’s happiness and schedules, the cooking, cleaning, the household admin, etc., simply because I was not earning money and my husband was (and it is my husband’s tendency to do these things whether I am working or not).
What does this have to do with my soul? Blogging, the community I have wanted to build, empowering women to wear whatever makes them feel good regardless of age and station in life is all something I passionately believe in and really wanted to try. Add to the fact that I went to school to be in the fashion industry and actually worked in the space around the time of the new millennium, and I feel like my soul is finally home. The aforementioned empowering empath also helped me realize that many of the solutions to my problems and the answers I am seeking is to lean into this passion. My soul feels free of the mom guilt so I am able to concentrate on my goals in regards to this space in a way I was not able to before. As a result, AFL began to experience amazing growth. We doubled our followers in three weeks, received two press inquiries, and were asked to write a review of a new boutique that opened. Even better is that we are really connecting on a personal level with many of the women we are meeting in this community. Day job opportunities are presenting themselves on a regular basis and I am excited about what I might be able to grow if I continue to stay true to my soul. More on all of this soon!
About a week or so ago, we posted our new tagline – Follow your heart, not the rules – and this seemed to resonate with a lot of you. Now you know a lot more about where it came from and what it means to the AFL space. There is more on this to come as well. We hope you will stay tuned!
Images by Breezy Ritter