Giving gifts of sentimental value

It is the time of year for gift giving. I have always been a sentimental gift giver. At times this has been well received. At other times this has been scoffed at. I continue to do it because it feels awesome – to both give and receive sentimental gifts.

Last Christmas I wrote about how my family has always been one of giving and receiving homemade gifts. This has always been fun. So much thought and meaning goes into these! This season, I am reminded of a dear, dear friend who gifted me with amazingly valuable gifts.

This friend and mentor gave me a shoulder to lean in when times were tough – and I offered her the same in return. A retired teacher, she taught me a great deal about teaching, relationships, and life. One gift was a musical Christmas ornament – which plays Silent Night, my favorite. As I pulled this ornament out of its box today, I was reminded of the wonderful gift of her friendship!

Our friendship was one of the best gifts I have ever received!

One day, she placed a small velvet pouch in my palm and said, “you cannot refuse this as my gift to you.” Puzzled, I opened the pouch and found this beautiful gold pendent with diamonds and a pearl. She said, “The pearl represents all of the pains, sorrows, and turmoils that make you the beautiful woman you are. The diamonds represent each of the unimaginable accomplishments you will achieve.” I am not one to cry, but I teared up.

While this gift is monetarily valuable, the meaning behind it makes it a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime.

What are some of the valuable and most sentimental gifts you have received?

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Learning to love

What has love got to do with it? Yes, my blog is about health and fitness – but with this coincides love. Self love. Accepting love of others. Recognizing love. Feeling as though you are deserving of love – and more. Many of our unhealthy eating and other behaviors are cheap substitutes for love (to learn more, visit Geneen Roth‘s site). And with this, I open my heart.

It was not until I was almost 22 when I decided that I needed to learn what love was, and in turn how to love. Born into a loveless home, I had been raised with no idea what love was. It was something I saw in movies – but I literally believed that it only existed in movies (to the likeness of unicorns and fairies).

We have all heard, you must love yourself before you can expect anyone else to. But it is kind of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Self-help books and therapists will advise you to draw support from others when you are working on loving yourself. Okay – so what if you do not have others whom you trust and know love you? For those who have never lived it – you may think that I am imagining and exaggerating that no one loved me during that time of my life. You might say that it was only in my delusioned mind. When in fact, it was my perception and very much my reality.

Therapists often guide you to accept that your parents or others loved you the best they knew how. That may be true. Did and do my parents love me? I suppose in their own way. If either of them chose today as the first day to physically say the words to me, I doubt I would believe them.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

NOTE: Nothing about this post is related to a godly or otherwise religious love. This is strictly referencing familial and romantic love between and among humans.

What I thought love was

Having never heard the words. Having never felt the physical components (e.g., hugs and kisses). I thought love was respect and obedience. I thought that love was to submit to another’s demands. When I was 20, I became engaged to a man who made me feel exactly how my mother made me feel – invaluable. This is all I had known. At that time, having been told by ‘professionals’ that my mother had loved me the only way she knew how, I just assumed that this is how he knew how to love me. I in turn generalized it to be how everyone loves.

I did not end up marrying this man – thank goodness! I cannot describe a particular ah-ha moment or epiphany. I just knew that ‘love’ could not possibly make one feel badly about herself.

And so the journey goes

Ten years later, and I am still not sure that I know what love is. I know there are different dimensions of love. I am not sure that I know HOW to love.

Years of therapy taught me that I needed to increase my vulnerability in order to build deep, meaningful (loving) relationships with others (romantic and platonic alike). During my childhood I built up walls. I can remember once telling a brother that he hurt my feelings. His response, “Put your feelings in a Ziploc bag and stick them in the dresser next to your bed because no one cares.” I have no idea how old I was, but I do know that it stuck with me all these years.

Learning to love

Learning to love has not been an easy journey for me. I have loved with all of my heart – and then hurt. I have done it again – and then been hurt. I have loved with patience, obedience, and respect – simply to be abandoned overnight.

And yet I continue to chose love over anger and hate. I could hate the one(s) who abandoned me, but I do not. I choose love.

The bottomline

I have been spending a great deal of time in introspection – asking myself what love is to me. What do I want it to be and what does it look like in my life? I am seeing love in places that I perhaps never saw them before. I am expecting different results. My eyes and heart are more wide open and willing to accept the love that is already there — and love that has never failed —

I HATE running and that is okay

It is okay to admit it. If you are like me, you HATE running. I may be exaggerating, but I do strongly dislike it. Yes, if you have been following my blog you know that I recently ran a half marathon. That was silly! And after this upcoming weekend, my running season will be over for the year (perhaps). I cannot wait!!!

With that said, happy National Running Day! I run because I was told by doctors that I never would again. I run to keep a healthy balance to my workouts and fitness.

The allure of running

We have this grandiose idea that running will make us thin. If I could only run, I would – fill in the blank. You have in your head, the farther you run the thinner you will be! This is contradictory to science. So where does this idea come from?

Is it the runners we see in the Olympics? Who looks more fit and healthy – sprinters or marathoners?

Maybe it is the neighbor who runs 6 miles a day.

Maybe you ran often and never ate when you were younger and were thin. (Note: It was the never eating that kept you thin.)

Is it that running is the only cardio exercise we can immediately think of?

Fellowship and community

Despite the fact that I dislike running, there is something that I am drawn towards. I run because it is an opportunity to spend quality time with my crazy friends who actually like to run. It gives us a chance to spend hours together – talking, venting, or simply trying to breath. We have a connection – always something to talk about or someplace to go (while running on foot). I have built deep, meaningful relationships through running – relationships I would have never otherwise known.

I prefer to lift

One fact still remains. I much prefer to lift weights. Heavy weights. Kettlebells. Olympic lifting. Barbell complexes. I would choose any of them before running. My lifting regimen often makes my legs tired and heavy – making running challenging and less than fun. Further, lifting is safer than running and poses less risk of injury. Have you ever met a dedicated runner who has never been injured? I have not met one yet.

Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)

Sport

Injuries (per 100 hours)

Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
Squash 0.10
US Football 0.10
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting (snatch, clean) 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

“The overall yearly incidence rate for running injuries varies between 37 and 56%. If incidence is calculated according to exposure of running time the incidence reported in the literature varies from 2.5 to 12.1 injuries per 1000 hours of running.” (van Mechelen, 1992).

The bottomline

It is okay to hate running. And know, you do not need to run to be thin – if that is your purpose for running or wanting to run. In fact, running is not a very efficient method for fat loss. And the risk of injury is far greater than weight training! Use that as food for thought.

Do not get me wrong, the benefits of running are incredible. But it is not for everyone. I write this post on the eve of my departure to run 200 miles will 11 of my closest friends. 200 miles of laughter, smiles, tears, and so much FUN

Like what you read? Please comment and share below.

References

Hamill, B. (1994). Relative safety of weightlifting and weight training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 8(1), 53-57.

Stone M.H., A.C. Fry, M.  Ritchie,  L.  Stoessel Ross and J.L. Marsit, J.L. (1994). Injury potential and safety aspects of weightlifting movements. Strength and Conditioning, 16, 15 24.

van Mechelen, W. (1992). Running injuries. A review of the epidemiological literature. Sports Medicine, 14(5), 320-335.

How to build deep, meaningful relationships

I have been thinking about the power of relationships. Friendships. I am not experienced with developing deep, meaningful relationships with others. I tend to prefer keeping others outside arms reach. In recent years, I have focused my personal growth on building deeper relations with others – in an effort to eradicate my feelings that I am alone in this world.

I would say that I have been successful in my efforts. I miss many of the women I had grown close to before leaving Wisconsin. Emily – my daily workout partner, sounding board, and mind of reason. Andrea – an inspiring woman of God, who shared her heart and family with me! JR – accepting me as me and teaching me to prioritize myself. And so many more!!

An unexpected friendship

Any friend & Becca (L to R)

Any friend & Becca (L to R)

Last summer I met my homie. Me – the sheltered Midwesterner. My homie – the NYC cat. If you ask my homie, she would say that I initially freaked her out. I sought her out – something about her reminded me of – well, me! In the last year our friendship has grown and we continue to support one other’s passions, dreams, goals, efforts, etc. Together we have grown, and I now have one of the deepest and most meaningful relationships I have ever had. Unexpected? Yes!

My homie knows me – my insecurities, my vulnerabilities, my weaknesses. She also knows my dreams, my passions, my ambitions. She knows how to make me laugh.

I would be lying if I made this post into a How-To. I do not know how to build deep, meaningful relationships. I am still learning. But here I will share what I have learned.

403What has allowed me to build this deep bond? 

Vulnerability – sharing my heart, mind, and soul.

Respect – for opinions, beliefs, and more.

Trust – with all my heart!

Honesty – with no reason to hide!

Listening – as if I have nothing to say.

Talking – as if I have a wealth of information to share.

The bottomline

I have learned that building relationships means stepping outside of my comfort zone. This requires me to ‘practice what I preach.’ I guide clients out of their comfort zones on a daily basis – I would consider myself an expert at this, particularly in the physical fitness form of a comfort zone. I also leave my physical comfort zone with nearly every workout. That is easy for me.

Leaving my emotional comfort zone – not so easy. It has been a slow, but steady journey. And very much worthwhile.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10