Are We Having Fun Yet?… The Holiday Edition — Cheslow Achievement Group

This is AWESOME for this time of year and SO TRUE! Just wanted to share!

Image Credit: Rebekkah_ann/iStock by Getty Images Handling the inevitable stress, tension, and disappointment of holiday gatherings… It’s a scenario that plays out across the globe every holiday season. Families come together to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. But how long does the celebration last before someone gets their feelings hurt and walks off to sulk…

via Are We Having Fun Yet?… The Holiday Edition — Cheslow Achievement Group

I Am Not A Dog…

I Am Not A Dog…

Deb and I have been playing around with intermittent fasting for a while now and it has really proven to be a game-changer for us so far (I’m sure I’ll blog about it when I have more data), but I’ve noticed something recently that has really caused me to stop and think. I realized that when I want to “reward” myself I go to food 100% of the time!

For example, yesterday was “balcony cleaning day” here at the condo. On the last Saturday of the month, we are allowed to break out the hoses and scrub brushes and clean the outside porches and just blow the water over the side. It’s a pain in the ass, but it makes a big difference – especially after Hurricane Irma completely salt-blasted our sliding doors and windows. The thing is that we always “reward” ourselves after porch cleaning with a big breakfast – either I make eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. here or we go out for breakfast. But, since we were fasting yesterday, there was no big breakfast and I was jarred by how sad that made me and how unmotivated I was to clean the porches.

Then, I started thinking about it… I do not have a single non-food reward system in place anywhere in my life!

What the hell?  I’m not a DOG!

But it’s true!  Whenever Deb and I start planning something that will make busting our butts to getting some big project done “worth it,” we automatically go to food… dinner out at our favorite restaurant, munchies in front of an episode of Star Trek, comfort food, etc. … ALWAYS… 100% of the time. And that’s just crazy! Is it just me?

I have resolved to come up with some non-food rewards that I can go to when I need something to spark my motivation in the moment. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

  1. Take a nap.
  2. Sleep in!
  3. Spend an hour away from my phone or computer.
  4. Eat lunch outside or at least away from my desk.
  5. Take a vacation day from work to do whatever I want!
  6. Unwind with a movie of my choice.
  7. Plan a long bike ride with my friends.
  8. Subscribe to a magazine I’ve been wanting to read.
  9. Buy a new song for my running playlist.
  10. Invest in some moisture-wicking workout socks.
  11. Buy a new sports bra.
  12. Come home with a bouquet of flowers.
  13. Sign up for a race.
  14. Splurge on a new running outfit or tri-kit (Hello, Tri*Fe Tri).
  15. Go for a mani/pedi.
  16. Treat myself to a massage!
  17. Get fitted for new running shoes at a running store.
  18. Plan a weekend getaway with Deb.
  19. Go to a yoga class.
  20. Plan our next dream vacation!
  21. Get a new hairstyle.
  22. Go to the local farmer’s market.
  23. Have a tourist day and do some of the fun things our town has to offer visitors (NOT Disney, thank you very much)
  24. Buy some new accessories for my bike.
  25. A new pair of earrings.

How do YOU reward yourself? Help me build my list so I can stop letting PIZZA be my reward!

“Race” Report: Hurricane Irma … and A Decision

“Race” Report: Hurricane Irma … and A Decision

Damage from Hurricane Matthew (10/2016)

Hurricane Irma… What can I say? You sure did keep us on our toes, I guess. Look, I think I have a mild case of Hurricane PTSD from last year’s Cat-3 Hurricane Matthew which nearly killed Deb (when a palm tree came crashing through the bedroom window of the house we were staying in and sent dagger-like shards of glass flying across the room no more than a foot from her head) and destroyed the exterior of our home to the tune of $50,000 in damages. It was my first up close and personal experience with a hurricane and, honestly, I had no interest in a do-over. We moved into a condo back in June and we live on the 14th floor of a 15-story building that sits right on the intercoastal waterway. The prospects of riding out a major storm way up high on the river did not interest me in the least.

So when I started hearing reports of a monster storm chugging its way across the Atlantic, I paid attention. I tried desperately not to give a lot of energy to all the “what ifs” that were swirling around my head, but it was hard. Irma turned into a Category 5 hurricane and started breaking records left and right. Heck, there was even talk of adding a Cat-6 storm designation in her honor because she was such a big, nasty bitch! On Monday, as she churned through the Lesser Antilles leaving utter devastation in her wake, I started my mental preparations. Okay, I could book a hotel for the 4 of us out of harm’s way… But WHERE? NO ONE agreed on where the storm was heading! She may go up the east coast of Florida… maybe the west coast… maybe right up through the center of the state… maybe turn and head out to sea… maybe bypass Florida altogether and just keep on going into the Gulf… Nowhere seemed “safe.” On Tuesday, I started searching hotels and could not find anything in Georgia that would take our dogs, Kona and Pooka (happily, many hotels ended up waiving their pet policies for hurricane evacuees – kudos to them!). I finally found a hotel with 2 pet-friendly rooms just north of Charlotte, NC, so I reserved them – just in case.

I went out that morning and bought 2 cases of bottled water – because that’s what you do in advance of a major storm. I went to meet Megan to swim that evening and stopped to top off my gas tank (again, that’s what you do) and had to go to 3 gas stations before finding one that had gas – which was eerie and weird. Deb and I made the decision to bust our asses in the office, get everything wrapped up that we could, and if we needed to leave, we would head out on Friday morning. Then people started posting the pictures of the major highways which had turned into parking lots filled with people trying to get out of Florida… people posted that the gas stations along the highways were out of gas and people were running out of fuel on the roads with nowhere to go. AND, as all the spaghetti models of Irma’s path started to come together, it looked like she would be marching straight through Georgia and into North Carolina and Tennessee when she was through with Florida… SHIT! It also looked like she was going to come up the spine of Florida meaning that the entire state would be involved – hurricane conditions stretching from coast to coast and from Miami to Jacksonville – all at once!  CRAZY! But that also meant that she would lose steam as she went north with projections that she would be a Cat-1 storm by the time she reached us.

On Thursday evening, after a lot of soul-searching, Deb and I decided that we would ride out the storm here at home rather than taking our chances out on the road. I don’t know that my family back in Virginia or Deb’s family in Maryland were too happy about that decision, but it was the right call (in retrospect). On Friday morning, I headed to Publix to get provisions. I wasn’t terribly worried about finding food – it was unlikely that there had been a run on avocados and kombucha. 😉 I found everything on my list in record time. And here’s what I noticed about the people I encountered: Everyone was AMAZING! The Publix employees were terrific as always. The customers were kind to each other and helpful. I saw more than one person allow someone who only had a few items to skip to the front of the line. Tall people were helping “vertically-challenged” neighbors reach items in the back of upper shelves. People were smiling, going about their business with a purpose, and getting stuff done. I believe crisis brings out a person’s true nature and I believe that MOST people are overwhelmingly GOOD! I’m proud of my community. I’m proud of the spirit I saw shining through in the lead up to the hurricane.

On Friday, we brought in everything off our balconies, did laundry, prepped food, made big bags of ice, filled the bathtubs with water, figured out how to turn the circuit breakers and water off in our condo – just in case, charged every laptop, cell phone, battery bank, etc. in the house. We were as ready as we were going to get. Josh’s 15th birthday was on Saturday and although we couldn’t give him the birthday we wanted to, we did the best we could. On Friday evening we went to Dick’s and he picked out the sneakers he wanted for his main present. We tried to go bowling, but the lanes closed early. 😦

On Saturday morning we woke up to a cloudy but beautiful day! We took our cars to our friend’s house and put them in his garage where they would hopefully be safer. We took Josh and Nicki out for burgers at The Daily Grind and then for dessert crepes at Cinnamon Tree Cafe (Josh’s bday choices). Josh opened presents (a Garmin from us and the new Rick Riordan book from Nicki) and then Nicki took us home. There wasn’t much more to do but wait. We piddled around the office, watched videos, played cards, ate good food and went to bed early.

On Sunday morning the storm was turning toward Florida. The wind was starting picking up here and the water in the canal next to our building was much higher than usual, but we were still able to take Kona outside with no worries – she was such a good girl through all of it. We fixed a big breakfast, turned down the fridge and freezer temps (in advance of losing power), made grab and go piles in the fridge that we could transition to coolers quickly if/when the power went out, and then just tried to enjoy the day. Irma was not scheduled to arrive in earnest until nightfall – which was a creepy prospect, but it was what it was.

The wind really started blowing around dinner time. Kona was pleading with us to go outside and no amount of coaxing would get her to use the training pads we bought. So we tag-teamed… we went downstairs to the parking garage and I held the door while Deb and Kona went 15 steps outside to the grass. Kona was thankfully very quick. By 8 pm, the wind and rain were coming straight at our unit from the east. We could see the hurricane glass in the sliders flexing. For the first time, we decided to turn on The Weather Channel and see what was happening and just like that I wanted to stress-eat ALL my hurricane snacks! Among the reports from the crazy weather people who were outside during the storm, there were tornado warnings popping up all around us. We weren’t afraid of the hurricane any longer, but tornadoes are another matter. We decided to pull mattresses into our interior master bathroom and sleep there. It wasn’t bad at all and the awful noise of the wind was muffled in there. We actually got several hours of sleep. Josh slept like a rock – per usual. 🙂

At 4 am, Deb and I both woke up and ventured out to see what was going on. Even though it was dark outside, you could see that the river had completely taken over the condo pool and was all the way to the parking garage. Through the kitchen window, we could see that the small neighborhood to the south was completely underwater and the river was all the way out to US 1! I felt so bad for the people in those houses, but the river will not be denied – it goes where it wants! I couldn’t go back to sleep so I got up around 5:15. The river was retreating by then. I could see the white tile outline around the pool and see that the neighborhood was not as swamped as it had been an hour before. The wind was still fierce, but by 7 am when it was light outside, it was starting to die down. We never even lost power, which was shocking!

Daybreak brought clarity on the damage – which was minimal for us in the grand scheme of things… The brand new condo dock (which was just finished and inspected in July) was destroyed. The pool is a mess, but nothing an industrial pool vac and a little chlorine can’t fix, and our carpet got a little wet around the big slider to the east balcony. That said, Deb and I were both chomping at the bit to check on our house in Ponce Inlet (which is under contract for sale, but not yet closed). We spoke to our old neighbor who said there was no visible damage which was a big relief. Turns out we lost the chimney cap and one small strip of soffit, but other than that, no issues and not a drop of water inside! Thank you, Baby Jesus!


I know this was not the case for everyone in Florida and my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the storm. I am just beyond grateful that our area was spared the worst of Irma’s wrath.

Now, in other news, I have an announcement… Megan and I have decided not to race Great Floridian this year. She is injured and me, well, to be perfectly candid, my heart just hasn’t been into training this year. I’ve tried to kick my butt into gear, but I’ve been so into the business – it always seemed like there was something more important to do than swim, bike, and run. I haven’t been a complete sloth, but I’m not terribly interested in throwing up a Hail Mary for 92.6 miles. GFT was a HUGE knee-jerk reaction coming off of IMFL last year. It was the closest thing I could find to another Ironman – without actually doing another Ironman – and it made sense in my brain at the time, but I’m just not feeling it. I don’t even feel bad about it. Taking 2017 off from hardcore training was probably one of the best things I could have done for myself, and now I’m excited about the 2018 season, which looks like it will include IM Gulf Coast 70.3, IM Augusta 70.3, and POSSIBLY another shot at Ironman Florida – I’ll make that call after Gulf Coast. 🙂


Does Everything REALLY Happen for a Reason?

On Monday morning I arrived at my desk after a fantastic weekend that included a perfect mixture of training, DIY home improvement projects, and relaxation and flipped on my computer. As I was scrolling down my Facebook feed, I noticed that there was a buzz in the Advanced Meditation group I am a member of… something about a shooting in Minneapolis. It didn’t register to me, so I continued to scroll. Suddenly, I saw pictures of my friend, Justine Damond, whom I met at a workshop in Tampa earlier this year… and things began to connect… JUSTINE was the person who was shot and killed in Minneapolis. My friend was dead.

It was one of those moments when you feel like you’ve been punched in the solar-plexus and everything takes on a very tunnel visioned, surreal character. How could this be?

I started clicking on the links…

It seems that Justine heard a ruckus in an alleyway behind her home that sounded like a sexual assault was in progress. She called 911 and then went outside – maybe to wait for the police, maybe to see if she could help, only Justine knows why she was drawn outside.

Then, when the police arrived, through some as yet unknown sequence of events, one of the officers shot Justine through the driver’s side window of his squad car. The officers’ body cameras weren’t on and the police car video didn’t capture the event, so no one really knows exactly what happened yet and we may never know… and that is a bitter pill to swallow.

Justine and her fiance, Don, were supposed to get married next month. Justine told me the story of how they met and how she eventually moved from Australia to Minneapolis to be with him when we were together in Tampa. It was like a fairy tale! They were so much in love – you could see it in their eyes and feel that warm energy a mile away!

Justine was a devoted student, teacher, and practitioner of meditation and spiritual healing. She’s just one of those people that makes the world a better place just by being in it – a truly GOOD person. She was a very gifted teacher. In meditations we are taught to tune in to new potentials in the quantum field, and so I can’t help but wonder how someone who is so good at manifesting her desires has something like this happen to her? Surely this is not a potential that she has been meditating on.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason. And I know there are those people out there who get very angry when people say that… people who have had such huge losses and traumas in their lives that they can’t possibly see any REASON or any GOOD that comes from it. But I believe it. I believe that very often it takes a long, long time to discern the good that lays hidden in something that on its face seems so unimaginably horrible.

I also know that Justine believed this too. At this moment in time, I’m having difficulty understanding what could possibly be the higher purpose for this senseless tragedy. It’s the same way I felt when my dear sister lost her son when he was born prematurely and lived only 7 minutes. What REASON could this possibly serve? What GOOD can possibly come from this?

But then, I look at my sweet niece, Maggie, and I know that she is the good that came from what happened to my nephew. And she is VERY, VERY good.

And so, as I grieve the loss of my friend and mourn the prospect of the world without her in it, I KNOW deep in my heart  that there is a reason for it and that good WILL come from it – somehow… even if we can’t possibly begin to see it yet.

Rest in Peace, Justine.

You are loved and missed.


Newton’s 3rd Law and My Life

Newton’s 3rd Law and My Life

Inertia [in-ur-shuh, ih-nur-], noun: the property of a matter by which it retains its state of rest or its velocity along a straight line so long as it is not acted upon by an external force

During the past couple of months, my life has been an object lesson on the power of inertia. When I looked at my giant white board on May 1st, I just didn’t see how we would make it to June 26th with our brains and bodies intact! There was so much on our plates, including:

I committed to doing my workouts in the evening (which I HATE) so that I could maximize my creative time in the mornings. I was waking up at 3:15 a.m. and launching into my days, working hard (if not necessarily smart), getting shit done, checking all the boxes, falling into bed at 9 p.m. and then doing it all over again the next day.

To say that I felt like a hamster on a wheel is an understatement, but it was necessary for the short term – we were all working like crazy people. And, astonishingly, everything got accomplished and all the events were brilliant… the book is finished and proofs are on the way… I’m eagerly awaiting Module 7 of my IIN program which unlocks next Monday… the Your Brave Mind programs have really been awesome and we have gotten terrific feedback on them… daughter #2 is graduated, employed, and has a new apartment… training is going much better than I expected after a fairly significant break… and we are happily ensconced in our beautiful riverfront condo.


I really didn’t notice how tired I was. I was in a routine, doing what I do – getting up early and getting all the things done. Deb actually said to me more than once, “How are you doing it?” I didn’t know HOW… I just WAS.

Then, last Friday, Deb went to Maryland to visit daughter #1 before she heads to Hawaii for 2 years to pursue her Master’s degree. My instructions upon her departure were clear: RELAX and ENJOY yourself!

Huh? What?

I didn’t even know how to process those instructions, but I was committed to following them because I knew I needed a break… BADLY!


I spent 5 days essentially away from my desk. I ran a 4-mile beach race and went for a 30+ mile bike ride with Megan down the Canaveral Seashore on Saturday (which was amazing), then we went to brunch (which was even MORE amazing), and I spent the rest of the day on the sofa watching Harry Potter movies. I went to bed on Saturday night and did not set an alarm… And I SLEPT… and SLEPT… and SLEPT! I woke up on Sunday feeling drugged and disoriented. What day was it? Where the hell was I? Am I late for something?


The interesting thing was that the more I “relaxed,” the more exhausted I felt. I napped throughout the day, went to bed pretty early, and slept 12 hours.

I texted Deb the next day and asked what was wrong with me.

I had invoked Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – INERTIA! I stopped moving… and the longer I wasn’t moving, the more I wanted to just stay still… and not move. I had no motivation to much of anything but sit on the couch and watch movies.

So I did what any sane person would do…

I messaged my friend, Megan, and asked if she wanted to do an impromptu 25/2 brick on Tuesday morning. Always up for fun, she agreed. It turned out to be one of the best rides I’ve had in a long, long time!

I broke the inertia. This morning I was back at my desk early and I feel really, really good.

We all need rest periods. There can be no recovery without it. Our minds get fuzzy and the details start to slip our awareness. I become VERY forgetful.

I think it’s important to recognize when a rest cycle is called for, but I’m really bad at it. I love hard work and the more challenging the task, the better I like it. But, after this weekend, I realize that even I cannot go full speed ahead 24/7/365.

However, I see the fallout of uncontrolled inertia all around me. There are so many people out there who are stuck in their ruts like they are super-glued in place.

All it takes is a baby step to break the grip of inertia, but first, you have to become aware that you are in its clutches – and that’s a really scary place for a lot of people. It was a scary place for me 7 years ago. Baby steps… And if you need a kick in the pants, give me a call!

How do you break the inertia? Just do something different! Get off the hamster wheel! Change up your routine – even if only in some small way. It will make your conscious mind sit up and take notice, and then, once you’re noticing, you can take more baby steps… And if you need a kick in the pants, give me a call!

We’ve got this!



First Breakfast…

One of my commitments this year has been to wake up at 3:30 am and use the early morning hours to create: to write, to plan, to meditate… to do all those things that tend to get lost in the shuffle once the craziness of the normal day sets in. It’s required several things to change.  First, I’ve shifted my workouts to the evening. That’s been a TOUGH adjustment. I’m most definitely a morning girl and I really prefer to do my training before anyone wakes up (not after everyone has gone to sleep), but it’s a shift I was willing to make as Deb and I negotiated how to fit in my health coach training program course work. Second, it means I have to add a meal to my day. I really believe strongly in eating every 4-ish hours. So, when I’m getting up at 3:30 am, I need an extra breakfast to carry me through to smoothie time (~8 am).

This is my new favorite first breakfast (not to be confused with my favorite breakfast quinoa bowl that I still eat nearly ever day around 11:30 🙂 ). I absolutely LOVE avocados, but honestly, smooshing one up on a piece of toast never really occurred to me. Then one day, about 2 months ago, I saw a picture on Instagram and thought, “Wow, that’s a great idea!” Yeah, I know, I’m way behind on trending uses for the avocado. It is the BEST thing EVER!  Not too heavy, full of brain fueling good fats, and just enough to keep me filled up until the next meal.

And, my dear son, who has taken to ditching his morning cereal at home in favor of whatever nasty breakfast they are serving at school (don’t think I’m not onto you, Josh Flynn!), has started asking for avocado toast for his breakfast! I’m going to call that a #momwin.

I posted a picture of my first piece of avocado toast on Facebook and got so many comments about how to spiff up my eats. People said I should add tomato slices, or a squirt of lime, or an egg, etc. And I’ve tried every single one of their suggestions… and they are all good!  But, this is my favorite by far… Toast, avocado, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper… Perfection!

Perfect avocado toast with hot green tea! Mmmmm…

No One’s Going To Do It For You

My son is in 8th grade. He is a really smart kid, but he, like most 14 year olds, is lazy.  He likes the path of least resistance, and given the choice between doing homework and playing xBox or Minecraft or watching videos on YouTube (not that I actually GIVE him a choice, but that’s another post for another day), guess what wins?  Yeah, not so much with the homework. Up until this year, he has gotten great grades with minimal effort.  This is the first year where he has actually be required to put his nose to the grindstone and work for it.  And guess what?  His grades have sucked this year.  I mean really! BAD!

It’s kind of embarrassing because his Language Arts teacher is a friend of mine and I cringe when I do my weekly check of his online gradebook and see D’s and F’s in her class. I’ve tried talking to him.  He glazes over and it’s like talking to a wall. This last quarter, my teacher friend has assigned a project that was assigned at the beginning of the quarter and is due in mid-May. Her rationale, I’m sure, is to teach her students how to take a big huge project and break it down in to weekly milestones so they’ll be better prepared for such things in high school.

The project was assigned right before Spring Break and my son came home all excited to go out and buy the binder and dividers and such for his portfolio. And he kept talking about how great it was going to be and how he was going to get a head start on the project during Break. So imagine my surprise when I checked the gradebook a few weeks later and saw a row of F’s for his portfolio checks! Then I got an email from his teacher… my friend… telling me he was WAY behind on the project.

Yep, got it! So, I sat my son down that night for a heart to heart talk. I told him that life is pretty simple – you can either wait for someone to hand you success (and plan to wait a really long time and be pretty unsuccessful in the meantime) or you can decide to take the reins of your life and GET SUCCESS.  I don’t know if I broke through or not, I suppose time will tell.  And I suppose there are those who would say I’m a bad parent because I’m not making sure he’s keeping up to date with his school work.  But dang it, he’s 14 years old and I’m sick and tired of wanting his success for him more than he wants it for himself! His success is up to him, not me. I love him dearly, but I cannot and will not do the heavy lifting for him – he has to learn to do it and want to do it for himself.

I think there are a lot of people out there like my son.  People who are plenty smart and who have a lot of talent in certain areas, but they are waiting for someone to hand them success.  Let me say it again:

No one is going to hand you success!

You must go out and get it yourself!

Stop waiting! We all have everything we need inside us at this very moment to be WILDLY successful! Why do we drag our feet?


Fear of what?  Failure?

When we sit back on the edges of life and wait for success to come find us rather than running out to meet it, aren’t we just failing by default?

My son seems to be waiting for something to light a fire under his rear-end to get rolling on his project, but has a gradesheet full of F’s in the meantime.  He’s FAILING! And there’s no reason for it.  He’s smart enough.  He has the resources and the tools and the time to get the job done.  But he’s just not taking action.

Sure there will always be shiny objects to distract us from what we need to be doing in any given moment, but are those distractions going to take us where we ultimately want to go? I hope I can make my son understand this lesson before it really bites him in the butt next year in high school.

As for me, I’m going to ride my bike!