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Setting {SMART} Goals

September 6, 2017
setting smart goals

Have you ever felt like your brain had so many ideas swirling around at the same time that you were afraid it might actually explode?

That is me. Today. Yesterday. For the last few weeks. I suppose it comes with the territory of being at home, “recovering.”  It is something that I cannot seem to turn off, no matter how times I try to distract myself with attempting to draw images that no one will recognize in Draw Something.

The fact of the matter is that all this thinking, while productive and exciting… is also exhausting. Every new idea that I have, leads to ten more new ideas.  I cannot tell you how many new Evernote “notes” I have created in the last few days. Rocket and I have even started talking about me adding a “parking lot” to one of the walls in my new office so that I can go back to some of the ideas with the help of visual reminders.

Some of these ideas are quick and easy. A post topic. A item that needs to be added to a “to-do” list. Ordering coffee (oops, I still need to do that!). Others are more complex and require more reflection. Things that involve soliciting feedback from others, ideas that need to percolate and be shelved until just the right moment (or a better moment than right NOW). Ideas big and small. Complicated and not.

The more I think of ideas, the more I realize that my ideas are only as good as the actions that accompany them. I am not one that likes to see great ideas, or even potentially good ideas, fall to the wayside because I could not follow through. Which is why, the more my brain has been overrun the last few weeks, the more I have thought about using SMART goals to turn these ideas and dreams into reality.

If you are not familiar with SMART goals, they are goals, written with a very specific format that is intended to take conceptual ideas into very specific realities. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound. This acronym is a tool that is used world wide by professionals, executives, and even in schools to help both teachers set goals for their instruction and for students to set their own personal academic goals.  The idea is that when you lay out a plan, that is action oriented, that used in process measures to track results, and that is bound by a timeline…that those lofty dreams scribbled on a post-it note (or into an Eevernote file) are more likely to become reality.

I have written many a professional SMART goal over my twelve years in the classroom, but somehow have never written any for my the rest of my life. Which as goal oriented as I have always been, is a bit surprising when I think about it. But that is about to change. Because I know that in order to turn my dreams into realities, there must be concrete steps, realistic time frames, and actions….lots of actions.

So I will start. I will dig out the templates that I have used with students. I will tweak them to make them work for me. And I will start writing. One at a time, thinking through each step. How will I measure the goal? What resources will I need to achieve my goal? What will it look like when it is successful? I will even try to think through some of the stumbling blocks that will undoubtedly spring up here or there. And then, bit by bit, I will take responsibility for my ideas with actions.

Writing SMART goals and putting them into action are a journey. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Sometimes you realize that although you may not have achieve the goal you SET out to achieve, other successes have emerged.  Like planting a seed in the garden, you nurture your goal, completing tasks and actions designed to make it bloom. You cannot account for the thunderstorms that blow the buds off the plants, or the scorching heat burns through the petals even though you watered it in the morning.  And while I am tempted to say, it is “enough” to do your best and keep your chin up, when it comes to achieving your dreams, being enough can be an elusive endeavor.  My efforts will only be enough if I do my very best to follow through on the actions that I set out, AND if I remain flexible enough to know when I need to revise or think outside the box.

Or maybe, at least in the first step of this journey, being enough means allowing myself the time, the space, and the creativity to cultivate these dreams so that I can turn them into action oriented SMART goals.

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Glamping for the Non Camper

Glamping for the Non Camper

A personal defnition of travel:

Exploring a new place (or an old one) in search of adventure, relaxation, pampering, good food, good wine.  Should also include getting lost at least once.

Usual accommodation preferences include hotels, resorts, apartments, or boats. The nicer and more luxurious the better.

(Yes, I am well aware that I am a brat- I am just being honest).

So when I learned about glamping last year for the first time…a glamorous type of camping, my ears perked up.  The truth is that I have been camping twice in my life. Once as a brownie (that camping trip was the end of my participation in Brownies by the way) and a second time at the end of my senior year in high school (that camping trip involved vodka…shhhh). Suffice it to say, I am not a camper.  But glamorous camping? With a bed? In a tent or cabin? With running water? Maybe just maybe.

Except that all of a sudden, earlier this fall, an opportunity to try glamping first hand, appeared.  In Southern California no less. A trip designed to give us quality time driving some our favorite Toyota vehicles, with friends, where we would be cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, a chance to kayak off the coast, and a chance to GLAMP.

El Capitan Canyon is no stranger to new Glampers. The Real Housewives of Orange County tried their hand at glamping during their last season. (I somehow doubt though that the Real Housewives “ooh’ed and ah’ed” over the wifi like a large group of bloggers did upon arrival.)

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Ready. Set. Fitness

Ready. Set. Fitness

Have you ever been looking forward to something so very much that you started a count down to prepare for it’s arrival?

That is how I feel, as I sit here, with one week left until my medical ALL CLEAR to resume exercise after my hysterectomy in March.

I am one week until my body can resume full activity, working out, sweating, feeling the rush of endorphins and confidence that comes from a great workout.

Ready.

Set.

Fitness!

Except of course that it is not going to work that way. After six weeks of NO activity other than the walk around the neighborhood and the day to day activity that comes from working and running errands, my body is not going to be able to jump back into exercising all of a sudden. Or at least, it will not be able to if I want to avoid injuries.

The truth is that I am just a bit fearful of starting to exercise again. Of wanting so desperately to feel strong, to feel fit, and yet, failing. Failing because my body is not up to what I would like it to do. Failing because I let excuses get in the way.

That might sound crazy. But the pressure to get back into fitness after this six week hiatus feels extremely high. So high that I know how easy it would be to sink into frustration at not getting there fast enough. It is all within my control this time. It is up to me. Only me.

While the knowledge that it is up to me should get my motors running and make me feel in control. It doesn’t. It instead reminds me of the times in the past when I have not met my fitness goals. When I have failed myself in training or at a race.

Friends have told me that I have inspired them to start running. Others have appreciated my honesty with my ups and downs telling me they have learned from my reflections. But me? It is hard to take your own advice sometimes. It is hard to see myself in my words, knowing that I need to let go of all that was.

The fact of the matter is that this was not just a six week fitness hiatus. I have been out of fitness commission really since last September. I have dabbled here and there, but my habits were off. My consistency wavered. I talked a great game of letting go of the runner that I used to be, of the distances that used to feel easy.  I have talked of secret weapons and tricks to get back on track.

But I have not taken my own advice. Or maybe, it is that I have not BELIEVED in my own advice.

Whatever the case, as I mentally prepare for the green light to flash, signaling my medical permission to start again, I feel something happening. I feel an energy brewing. Much like I felt when I decided to train for my first marathon in 2001 at a time when I could barely run three miles. Much like I decided to train for a triathlon after having spent twelve years being afraid of riding my bike.

Whatever it is, I am not about to let it go to waste. Yes, it is going to be hard to get back into a fitness routine. Yes, my body is going to behave differently and progress will be slow. Yes, I am going to have bad days where I wonder if it is all worth it.  But….there will be good days too. More and more of them as I keep going.

I read a great expression today on a friend’s site, as she shared her experience of competing in a Tough Mudder.

And I realized…she is right. No matter what personal obstacle course we are on. Whether we are starting over or starting anew. The past does not matter.

Come back tomorrow to see how I lay out my five step plan to ease my body back into fitness after my surgery. Because today? Today is all about building my mental strength. Forgiving my body for not being what is was and moving on. Moving on to a new body. A stronger me.

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My Five Step Plan to Fitness After Surgery

My Five Step Plan to Fitness After Surgery

Five weeks of recovery. One week left until the words ALL CLEAR appear on my phone’s calendar. Words that symbolize the return to regular life. Words that represent my victorious return to a life of fitness.

Except of course that after six weeks off from any real exercise, my body is not ready for a victorious return. My brain is getting there, slowly. But my body needs a plan. It needs steps to make sure that my return to fitness is one that lasts for the LONG HAUL.

So I am coming up with a plan. A plan that will ease me back into starting to exercise after recovering from surgery. A five step plan.

Step 1. Set Realistic Expectations.

I would LOVE to feel proud and exhilarated after a great run or fabulous bike ride on one of my favorite trails. So instead of attempting to ease into one of my favorite spots, I am going to consider getting back to my old workout haunts as my reward. In a month. Yes, you read correctly. I am giving myself one month. That is not to say I am not going to push myself. but I know that I need to work up to running three miles. And I want to do it well. Because after three miles? Come more miles.

Step 2. Create Habits.

After this long hiatus, I know that I need to retrain not just my muscles, but my mind to get up early in the morning to exercise or find time to squeeze in a workout in the evening if the day got away from me. My brain needs to be taught again, that despite the excuses that might line the path to getting things done, it is worth it in the long run.

Step 3. Formulate a Training Plan.

A real plan. Not just a “lets see what I can do today” plan. It needs to be systematic, well thought out, consistent, and purposeful.

The good news about formulating a plan is that there are MANY resources out there for every possible running distance, triathlon, or other endurance event. One of my favorite new finds is Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line- and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea.  Granted. I am biased. I think the world of Sarah and Dimity. For good reason. After reading their first book Run Like a Mother, I grew to love their quick witted conversational style, their authenticity, and their very real passion for running. Their latest book was exactly what I needed right now. They reminded me of the fact that no matter how many marathons, half marathons, or triathlons that I have competed in the past, as Dimity says, “…there are no savings accounts in running.” If we want to make our goal a long term one, we need to train, responsibly, with a clear purpose and goals that lie just beyond what is comfortable. The book is an easy to read mix of personal stories by every day mother runners AND novice and experienced training plans for all types of distances from 5k to marathon.

My one month plan is to start walking on the treadmill, building up to add short bursts of running, leading eventually to longer bursts. There will be rest days. Three to four days during the first week, building to six days per week by the fourth week. I am still thinking about what my long term goal is…so my training plan you might say is still a work in progress.

Step 4: Find Motivating Workouts

I am lucky to have a workout room in my house, with a treadmill, a bicycle trainer, free weights, and a television and DVD player. Plus, in our family room we have both a Wii and an xBox. I have been setting shows to DVR so that I have PLENTY of things to watch while on the treadmill, and I am excited to finally get to use my Physique 57 barre style workout DVDs.  The first month is going to be about building my base, slowly and safely.

Step 5: Be Patient. Be Flexible. Be Determined

I have NEVER started at what feels like ground zero before. Or maybe I have. Presumably after my bone marrow transplant, in 1998, I started from scratch. But that was a LONG time ago. I am heavier now, and older. I need to be mentally strong enough to push myself and ignore the voices of doubt, but smart enough to listen to my body when it has had enough.

 Five steps. One month. I am ready. Are you?

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Guest Post: A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex

Guest Post: A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex

Yes…that really is our topic today.  Dr. Lau­rie Mintz is here on C.Mom today to shed light on some­thing that is um.…important.  Rela­tion­ships and mar­riages are hard in gen­eral, but even more so when inti­macy takes a nose dive. And in my case at least, I am the first one to admit that I fall prey to the being tired, want­ing to go to bed early, line of excuses. They are not excuses.…they are true state­ments. But I know that some­times we have to take one for the team… I am just not always very good at that. :)

And so.….without fur­ther ado…an expert, Dr. Lau­rie Mintz.…on how to spice things up.

A TIRED MAMA’S GUIDE TO PASSIONATE SEX: 6 Sexy Guide­lines to Try Today!

Remem­ber the days when you and your hus­band couldn’t keep your hands off each other? If it’s a dis­tant mem­ory for you and you are too tired to care, you are not alone!
“Honey, I’m too tired” may sound like just another excuse—but for mil­lions of Amer­i­can women, it’s sim­ply the truth. They may set­tle for no sex at all or the oblig­a­tory “I’d bet­ter do this for my mar­riage” sex—often to the detri­ment of their rela­tion­ships. In her new book, A Tired Woman’s Guide To Pas­sion­ate Sex, which research has proven to be effec­tive in increas­ing desire and arousal, Dr. Lau­rie B. Mintz shows women how to bring their libido back to life—and put the pas­sion back into their lives.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the bed-rock to make your bed rock: One of my first steps when coun­sel­ing cou­ples, about sex or any other issue, is to teach them the prin­ci­ples and strate­gies of effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In more than twenty years of coun­sel­ing, I can’t think of a client I’ve worked with whose com­mu­ni­ca­tion style has not either con­tributed to their prob­lems, been part of their recov­ery, or both. Most peo­ple in our cul­ture have never been explic­itly taught use­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and those who have often forgo such skills when tight on time, exhausted, or upset. The abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate effec­tively, par­tic­u­larly when hurt or angry, is an uncom­mon skill, but the key to rela­tion­ship inti­macy. Entire books have been writ­ten on com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills, and I have a chap­ter ded­i­cated to this in my book. One of the most impor­tant tips is to not expect your part­ner to mind-read – about sex or any other issue. Instead, state your needs clearly, lead­ing your sen­tences with the word “I.” Another essen­tial tip is to not ask ques­tions that aren’t ques­tions When a desire is posed as a ques­tion, one of two things often hap­pens:1. the receiver doesn’t real­ize it isn’t a real ques­tion and pro­vides an answer which is not sat­is­fac­tory to the asker; or
2. the receiver becomes defen­sive. Let’s pre­tend that Alice her hus­band, Mar­tin, “Are you work­ing late tonight?” If Mar­tin thinks this is a gen­uine ques­tion, his answer might be, “Yes, I’m work­ing late and will be home around 9:00 p.m.” He would then feel blind­sided when Alice bites into him with “I hate how you are never home at night!” In this case, Mar­tin inno­cently answered what he thought was a true ques­tion. In the sec­ond sce­nario Mar­tin might reply not to the ques­tion but to what he per­ceives as an accu­sa­tion. Martin’s defen­sive answer might be, “I can’t help it that I have to work late! I am under a lot of pres­sure and you’re mak­ing it worse!” Cer­tainly, in either case, ask­ing a non-question ends in neg­a­tiv­ity. This is true when the ques­tion is sex­ual as well. Think about a woman pos­ing the ques­tion, “Do you feel like hav­ing sex tonight?” This non-question can have many pos­si­ble mean­ings. It can even mean one thing one time and some­thing totally dif­fer­ent another time! This ques­tion could mean “I hope you aren’t horny, because I would love to just cud­dle tonight”or “I’m horny and want to have sex”. Clearly, the ques­tion “Do you want to have sex?” can mean many dif­fer­ent things because it isn’t a sin­cere ques­tion. For one week, try to not ask ques­tions that aren’t really ques­tions and ask your part­ner to do the same. I think you will be pleas­antly surprised.

Ask your hus­band to engage in more chore-play: Research has con­firmed what women already are keenly aware of: Women whose hus­bands do their share around the house are hap­pier and more desirous of sex. Women need to make this abun­dantly clear to their spouses. Remem­ber­ing the impor­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, don’t ask “Will you do the dishes?” and instead explain clearly your need for your part­ner to do more around the house. Make it clear that you are likely to feel more sex­ual if, while you are doing the din­ner dishes, he grabs a dish towel instead of your breasts.

Your most impor­tant sex organ is between your ears, not your legs: Likely the rea­son that chore-play works so well is because it gives women more time to relax – some­thing research finds is nec­es­sary for women’s sex­ual arousal. Sci­en­tists scanned the brains of a small group of men and women while they were being stim­u­lated by their part­ners and found that for the women (but not men), the part of the brain respon­si­ble for anx­i­ety shuts down as they become aroused. These find­ings also explain why it’s impos­si­ble to have an orgasm while think­ing about your unfolded laun­dry or unre­turned emails, some­thing research also shows women do more often than men. Learn­ing the prin­ci­ples of mind­ful­ness – stay­ing in a com­plete present focus – can help women deal with dis­tractibil­ity dur­ing sex. It is help­ful for women to learn to turn their busy brains off dur­ing sex, and instead allow them­selves to fully immerse in their bod­ily sen­sa­tions. An equally impor­tant way that women can har­ness the power of the sex organ between their ears is to think about sex dur­ing the day. Tune into the sen­su­al­ity and sex­u­al­ity around you. Take it a step fur­ther by stop­ping what you are doing a few times a day and think about sex. In short, use the sex organ between your ears by think­ing about sex when you aren’t able to have it (e.g., in the midst of the work day or mak­ing lunch for your kids) and turn off your brain when you are hav­ing sex to revel in the fab­u­lous sen­sa­tions in your body.

Night time is not the right time: Count­less women tell me that when they get in bed at night, the last thing on their mind is sex. They just want to go to sleep. There is inter­est­ing evi­dence that testos­terone, which is par­tially respon­si­ble for our sex drive, is at its low­est at night. Between exhaus­tion and decreased testos­terone, bed­time is not the ideal time for many women to have sex. As noted by my friend Jean, “It’s hard to find time alone with kids run­ning around, but that’s a prob­lem because the only time we have is too late at night for me.” To get around this, one cou­ple I know sets their alarm an hour early every Fri­day morn­ing. Another has arranged rides for their son to his weekly Boy Scout troop meet­ing, giv­ing them an hour and a half at home each Mon­day after din­ner. Let go of the myth that bed­time is the “right” time for sex, and instead, embrace the notion that the right time is when it works for you and your partner.

You can’t go from being an ice cube to boil­ing water: We are born with the need for skin-to-skin con­tact. Stud­ies con­ducted in orphan­ages and hos­pi­tals reveal that infants who aren’t touched lose weight, become ill and even die. On the other hand, pre­ma­ture babies who are pro­vided with touch gain weight faster, cry less, and have improved pulse and res­pi­ra­tion rates. Your sex drive mir­rors these find­ings. With­out touch, your sex drive shriv­els and dies. Con­versely, lov­ing, sex­ual, and affec­tion­ate touch can all help to reju­ve­nate your libido. Rarely will a tired mom ini­ti­ate sex or respond with ready pas­sion to a spouse’s advances if there has not been con­nected touch­ing through­out the day and week. As stated by Nadine, my seventy-five-year-old friend who has had a sat­is­fy­ing sex life over the course of her fifty-five-year mar­riage, “You need to be defrosted. If you haven’t been touched all day and go to bed at night, you’re an ice cube. It’s hard to go from an ice cube to boil­ing water. Being touched dur­ing the day warms you up.” But, just any touch won’t do. Some touch warms you up and some touch frosts you fur­ther. For touch of the melt­ing vari­ety, I rec­om­mend that cou­ples touch each other affec­tion­ately three times a day. I also rec­om­mend the same amount of sex­u­ally provoca­tive touch – tit­il­lat­ing, insin­u­at­ing touch at a time and place that sex is impos­si­ble. Remem­ber that car in your parent’s dri­ve­way – the touch cer­tainly wasn’t going to end in sex, but it sure was excit­ing. Rekin­dle that feeling.

Men are microwaves and women are crock-pots: When a woman laments that she gets lit­tle sex­ual sat­is­fac­tion, the prob­lem often not enough fore­play and instead, too much focus on the goal of inter­course. Dur­ing inter­course, the cli­toris is only indi­rectly stim­u­lated and this is why only a minor­ity of women orgasm through pen­e­tra­tion alone. In order for a woman to reach orgasm, she gen­er­ally must have her cli­toris in con­tact with some­thing and it must be stim­u­lated. How much stim­u­la­tion? There is great vari­abil­ity among women. Like­wise, an indi­vid­ual woman her­self will vary, depend­ing on many things. Among these are her level of exhaus­tion and her abil­ity to turn off her busy brain. Still, aver­ages are inter­est­ing. On aver­age, men take four min­utes to reach orgasm, once they begin inter­course. Women take some­where around eleven min­utes and this is not eleven min­utes of inter­course. It is eleven min­utes of stim­u­la­tion. Not all women know this. Even fewer men seem to know this. What’s more, women often don’t tell men this. Women don’t always tell their part­ners that they need time to get aroused or how to arouse them. This takes us right back to the first tip. The most impor­tant advice for sex­ual sat­is­fac­tion is to know what you like and to com­mu­ni­cate this to your part­ner. This means that if you, like many women, are a slow cooker – tell your part­ner about your slow cook­ing time and the ingre­di­ents you need to turn up the heat.

Dr. Mintz is a tired woman who has regained her once-lost pas­sion and a psy­chol­o­gist with more than fif­teen years of expe­ri­ence help­ing count­less women do the same. She has a PhD in psy­chol­ogy and is a licensed psy­chol­o­gist with a wealth of expe­ri­ence coun­sel­ing women and cou­ples. Thanks to fol­low­ing her own advice, she enjoys a pas­sion­ate and sat­is­fy­ing sex­ual rela­tion­ship with her hus­band of twenty-two years. She lives in Colum­bia, Mis­souri.

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Um…so ok…I have some things to work on.  Prob­a­bly my grumpy-ness not a big help in this depart­ment. The whole chore play idea?  Inter­est­ing.  Rocket already does a lot of chores…  Oops. The night­time piece though…yes, yes, and yes.  I want to sleep at night. Though ok, I want to work­out or get ready for work first thing in the am. So Rocket can’t really win around our house.

What about you all?  Any­one else in the “needs work” group?