Thank you for firing me!

“Closing time…”

You can get comfortable with life, with a certain routines and even though you know that way of life or those routines are no longer bringing you joy, you just can’t bring yourself to step away. I think at times like this our subconscious takes over and, in a way, sabotages us in order to force us to change things up.

That happened to me last Saturday. I have taught group fitness at the same gyms for over 14 years and it has always been a love/hate relationship. I love inspiring people. I love knowing that someone made decisions to improve their health in part because of coming to my classes. I love watching the joy people have as they achieve fitness goals. Mostly I love the friends I have made over the years, the friends I may only see in class, but the ones I count on to keep me honest.

What I don’t love is the thick skin needed to deal with the negativity of teaching aerobics. Nobody is perfect, except an aerobics instructor, don’t ya know. In the minds of some we were put on this earth to give them a perfect experience every time they walk through the door – because after all, that’s what they pay for!

It’s hard standing in front of 25 people and knowing how to give each and every one of them their own individual ultimate workout. Its harder knowing that no matter what you do, some will leave upset and talk badly about you  in the locker room or worse email your boss. What is the hardest, though, is being a human aerobics instructor, because human beings make mistakes and aerobics instructors must always be perfect.

Over the years I have been “talked to” many times for the things I have said in class that have offended people. Over the years I have defended myself and then walked into class and checked everything I said for fear of getting in trouble again. After the last such conversation, I decided that I was done. No more defending myself, no more pretending, no more walking on eggshells, I am me and there are parts of me that are truly tough to take, but I’m done living my life trying to please other people when I am the only one I have to answer to daily.

So when the text came in “we need to talk”. I was done. I didn’t want to talk because it was going to be the same thing as it always is and it’s laughable at this point because I already knew it was coming. I repeated several times via a couple of texts, I don’t want to talk, just fire me. I wasn’t going to walk away because even if it was in my best interest, I wouldn’t disappoint the members who love me by leaving them. So I got the termination letter first thing Monday morning

…and I felt relieved! In fact the utter lack of emotion associated with seeing the words “your services are no longer needed” shocked me. I thought it would hurt. I thought it would be painful. I thought that day I stopped teaching aerobics that it would leave a hole in my heart. Instead I feel relief. I feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in my adult life I now get to workout (at a different gym of course!) and focus on me and focus on my self-improvement.

I did not realize until the moment it happened how much of a burden teaching aerobics had become for me.

I feel relieved!

I also feel sad for the people who enjoyed my classes. I truly did love many of my members. This week they will show up expecting me and I have no idea what they will get…

…but they’ll no longer get me. Instead I will get the opportunity to focus on me. I have be going 500 miles/hour for so many years juggling everything and I honestly am ready to begin a new chapter focusing on me.

2013 is the year of Missy. It’s finally the year where I really stop trying to please everyone else and focus on improving me and getting myself where I need to be so that I can once again inspire others to be their best version of themselves.

So THANK YOU former employer – THANK YOU for firing me! A friend told me that she once heard Oprah say that you should never be upset over being fired. It simply means better things are waiting. For the first time in a long time, I honestly feel there are better things waiting.

All of that being true, getting fired does sting a little. So the next time I’m in a comfortable routine that is no longer beneficial, I just hope I have the courage to walk away when its time versus waiting for the “You’re fired!”

“…every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end!”

What is your excuse?

ImageI have been a group fitness instructor for almost 15 years. There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with being a good fitness professional. (Considering that only 15% of Americans exercise for 20 minutes or more at least 3 times per week, there is A LOT of responsibility in this particular profession.)

Over the years I have heard every excuse in the book. I’m sure that even if you don’t work out or go to a gym, you could rattle off the most popular with little to no effort:

“I don’t have time.”

“The gym is too expensive.”

“My kids don’t like the daycare.”

“I’m tired after work.”

“I need to run errands.”

“I stayed up late last night and I’m too tired.”

And on and on and on and on….

Over the years I’ve made my own excuses. I had 3 kids in the span of 4 years – that was an excuse. I got divorced – that was another excuse. Add those in with all of the other excuses that every one else uses…and I’m the one who is supposed to be inspiring others!!

This year I made up my mind to stop with the excuses as they relate to my health. As a result, I am 40 and in the best shape of my life. (Yes, even when I was a 21 year old University of Illinois cheerleader, although I weighed 10 lbs less, I was not nearly as healthy as I am right now.) I eat right 80% of the time. I choose healthy options and I watch my portions. (Yes I drink a shit-ton of beer & eat goldfish – but those are my carbs and I account for that in my other meals!) I get my butt out of bed and I do the workouts. For me that meant stopping my love/hate with cardio classes at the gym and taking on the challenge of running. Oh man! Running! (That will be a whole other post!) There have been times that the weather or my aches & pains have made running suck suck suckie suck, but I do it. The result of my commitment to my health is that I feel and look fantastic – yay me!

…I can hear your thoughts, so let me take a stab at putting them in writing…

  • “That’s great for you, but I don’t have that kind of willpower” – EXCUSE
  • “You don’t have a husband and you have days with no kids, so it’s easier for you.” – EXCUSE
  • “You’re an aerobics instructor so you were always in better shape than me.” – EXCUSE

Here’s the thing and there’s really no gettin’ around it: I am NOT stronger than you. It is NOT easier for me than it is for you. There is NOTHING inside of me that allows me to succeed which is not also inside of you. EVERY SINGLE PERSON has that thing inside, you know that deep down thing inside that wants to succeed! EVERY SINGLE PERSON has the power to feed that thing or to feed the excuse monster! So what the hell is more hungry today?!?

IF IT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, YOU WILL FIND A WAY.

IF NOT, YOU WILL FIND AN EXCUSE.

Maybe today isn’t your day, maybe 2013 isn’t your year. At some point, we all have to stop making excuses for why we are unable to accomplish the things in life we want to accomplish and just find a way…

Have you caught on yet, that health is just an example…I’m really talking about all things in life!

Again, I don’t know everyone’s circumstance. I would never assume that I understand your life. What I do know to be true for myself is that when I stop coming up with reasons why I can’t do something and simply commit myself to making it happen – shit starts happening in an amazingly good way. So what would you rather shit – excuses or rainbows?!

Think about this…

What do you want?

…I mean what do you really want in your life that you haven’t been able to achieve?

What excuses are you making?

STOP IT! Just stop it right now!

Pick one thing – just 1 – that you want to work on and every time you start to make an excuse, Stop! and trust me, eventually you will find your way!

Keep skipping! ~Mis

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Sometimes it just needs to be about the praise…

My minister used to give what he called “The Big But” sermon. (No lie! It actually kinda made me feel better that even ministers recycle speeches.) The Big But sermon in its most basic format is this: whenever you say something positive followed by “but” and something negative, the person listening only hears the negative.

Example “Child 1 you showed great improvement in your math scores, but what is this low P.E. grade all about?” Child 1 hears “Dude, you suck at P.E.” At least I’m certain that is the phrase my kids say in their head since I’m known for overuse of the word dude around them (still workin’ on uppin’ my street cred!)

This example is actually one of the huge arguments I had with the former Mr. on a regular basis. In fact just this week, 4 years post divorce when he was telling me about the boys report cards from the last term, “Child 1 you went up in everything and had great scores, but your P.E. grade fell.” DUDE, I bit my tongue and nearly drew blood holding back the words I wanted to scream “CAN’T YOU JUST TELL HIM HE DID SOMETHING RIGHT WITHOUT POINTING OUT WHAT HE DID WRONG????”

I digress…happens to the best of us divorced folks!

Basically the point of my minister’s sermon and something I have tried to put into practice with the kids and in every other relationship in my life is this: Sometimes it just needs to be about the praise!

Not every incident needs to be a learning experience, not every flaw needs to be pointed out….sometimes it just needs to be about the praise!

“Wow, you did an awesome job on the picture!” – to a child

“You look amazing!” – to the person who has been working her ass off in my weights class for 6 months

“Thank you for all of the help today! The store ran so much better because of you!” – to the employee who often needs a lot of direction

I know that I do not always practice “the praise”…sometimes I get bogged down, irritated, annoyed and generally fed up with life, and my conversations are full of “big buts”. And other times life does need to be about the learning…

…But I try!

I was reminded of the Big But sermon today at work when I received the following email from the V.P. of Retail for my company:

Missy—LOVE reading this!! This is the type of service we want to consistently be known for across the company! You’ve set the bar high!

His email to me, along with the one I received from the Head of Operations, was in response to this email sent to the corporate office:

Date: Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Outstanding Customer Service – Merrimack (New Hampshire) Premium Outlet – Asics Store
To: CustomerCare@asicsamerica.com

I am writing in hopes that Executive Management responsible for the Asics Outlet Store in Merrimack (New Hampshire) will hear about the outstanding service extended to its customers by the Store Manager, Missy and her team.   Our initial telephone inquiry about available volleyball footwear and apparel with Missy, led to a road trip from Boston, Massachusetts to the Asics outlet (only outlet store in the Northeast).  It presented the opportunity to observe in person how professional and knowledgeable Missy is in her interaction with customers and her mentoring of her staff.  Its clear her staff members hold her in high regard and her work ethics inspires them. 

Although volleyball is just coming of age in the Northeast as compared with other regions in the US, there is an opportunity for Asics to capture market growth/share over competitors such as Mizuno.  We have become acquainted with the Asics brand through the generous support Asics has provided to a top NCAA  D3 Volleyball team that our older daughter is currently a member.  Although Northeast volleyball clubs typically order Mizuno products for its players, we seek out Asics products for our younger daughter where and whenever we can.  PLEASE send more volleyball products to your Merrimack store.  With Missy and her staff as representatives for Asics, its a real commercial opportunity Asics should capitalize upon!

Best regards,

I remember this woman. I don’t remember going out of my way or doing anything special for this woman, just doing my job. Apparently though, just doing my job meant something to this customer and she made it about the praise.

My boss told me about a LinkedIn article she read recently that was discussing writing recommendations. The writer of the article implied that it says much more about the character of the person who writes the recommendation than the person receiving it.

Giving praise is not something that we put into practice towards our peers, is it?

How many times have you written an email complaining about poor customer service? How many times have you sought out a manager to complain about an employee? How often do you tell others in your circle about a bad experience you had with a certain company as a warning not to use that service?

…you’re thinking right?!

Now think about this – How many times have you written an email like the one above? How often do you seek out the manager at the grocery store to compliment the clerk who went out of his way to find a product for you? How often to you hand out written compliments to friends just for being your friend?

How often do you make it about the praise?

Life is hard. For some life seems harder than others. No one knows how another person feels in any given situation. Every situation in life teaches us something, but it doesn’t always need to be an “in-your-face” lesson.

…there is one thing that I do know with certainty, if each of us took a little more time in our lives to make it about the praise – not just when people are at their lowest, but even when they are just going about their daily lives – what a different world this might be in which to live. Sometimes it just needs to be about the praise…

“Praise More People Than You Criticize” ~Baylor Barbee

What would you do?

I’m working on a funny blog post, really I swear! I can actually be quite comical if you have a dry, sarcastic sense of humor.

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. Woah, I know! I am never short on words. But I was thinking while I was in the shower (because doesn’t everyone do their best thinking in the shower?) and I realized why my struggle is confusing me so greatly this time around.

I am strong. I am independent. I have spent the past 15 years perfecting independence to the point where I do not know who I am without it. I define independence!

Who are you? What trait defines you? If you could think of your greatest asset, what would that be?

…Do you have it?

…Are you thinking about how much a part of you that thing is?

Ok now here is my question to you:

What would you do if that strongest asset, that thing that defines you, that part of you that has carried you through all the ups & downs life has thrown your way, the one that is so ingrained in you that you don’t know who you are without it, the one that makes you the person that you are was taken away? How would you wrap your brain around it and find a way to move forward without it?

My fierce independence was taken away…and despite thinking about it all day, every day, I haven’t quite figured out who I am without it.

What would you do?

 

Standing on the edge & knowing when to let go…

“She’s standing on a line between giving up and seeing how much more she can take.”

I’ve been standing on that line for the past 4 years…well really the past 7 since my Dad died, but who’s counting?!

My worst fear living 1,100 miles from home is losing people I love without being able to say goodbye. My Dad may not have been perfect, but he was my hero. A month after he died (suddenly with no warning), I was having a “cry at the drop of a hat” day. I needed to grieve, really grieve. I needed to fall apart, but I had three young children ages 4, 2 and 3 months. I was breastfeeding, so I didn’t even get the luxury of sleeping. My then husband looked at me on this day when for whatever reason I could not control my emotions and said “It’s been a month. You need to get over this and move on.” (And yes, those were his exact words…those are not words I will ever forget!)

There is was…proof that I couldn’t allow myself to fall apart over losing my father. Proof that the person who was supposed to pick me up and tell me it was going to get better was in fact not going to support me at all.

So I kept going…

3 years later when I got divorced, I didn’t have a best friend that lived closer than 1,100 miles away. I now was alone with three small children, ages 3, 5 & 7, and I couldn’t pay the bills, let alone take time out to have a nervous breakdown.

So I kept going…

7 years later…8 months without a driver’s license is what I’m facing. I still can’t afford to pay all of my bills and now I have fines and lawyers fees on top of that – oh and don’t forget cab fare! Yes, many people have offered to give me rides. Yes that is a wonderful thing!

But here’s what will happen, there will be a morning when I really need a ride somewhere and the person who agreed to give me one will wake up to a puking child and back out. That will be the morning that I am overdrawn on my checking account and couldn’t take a cab even if my life depended on it. And I will get angry. Not at that person, but at the level of stress that has become my life, at myself for making a mistake and at the universe for keeping me stuck in this place that I don’t want to be.

People should be concerned with themselves and their families first (the oxygen mask on the airplane). And my 8 months of dependence will create tension with friends which will end up in even higher levels of stress. And at that point I can guarantee that I will no longer be able to handle the shit-ton of stress the universe seems to delight in throwing my way.

So this time I’m not going to keep going….it’s time to move home.

It’s time for me to crawl back to my family and let go of the edge of the cliff and allow myself to have that nervous breakdown I’ve been so desperately fighting for the past 7 years.

My family may get sick of hauling me around, but they’re still gonna love me because that’s what our family does. I will still be bogged down by the stress of leaving my children and worse I will have to live with the judgement from everyone who will look at me as a bad Mother. Because that’s what I’ll be, right?! A horrible, awful, no good, very bad Mother who chose her own mental health over her children. The worst of the worst, the Mom who walks away. (Trust me friends, those of you who have said you support me but are holding that judgement behind the words…I hear you loud and clear. You are not hiding your disdain for my choice no matter how good of a friend you think you are.)

Of course there are friends who may not understand but do in fact support my decision, those whom I appreciate more than words could ever express. But right now, I need my Mom. I need my brothers. I need my 94 year old Grandma. I need more than anything to be allowed to breakdown versus holding it together for everyone around me.

I’m going home….

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