By: Angie Sloan

Every Woman Blog - New Year New You

This may sound like a snarky post, but that’s not my intent. The new year is here! Two weeks into 2017 and there’s not a single parking space at the gym and my Pinterest board has been filled with tons of pins on how to keep those “New Year’s resolutions.” And this year, I have decided to not buy into the hype. I don’t begrudge those who do, but it’s not for me. It’s the word “resolution” that bothers me. In its bare form it is just “re” meaning (to do again) and “solution” meaning (an answer to a problem). And you know what? That is precisely the problem.

Each December, as the new year approaches, we realize that we need to “fix” ourselves, again. We make promises to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, keep a tidier house, read more books, watch less TV, etc. But what if we are not broken? What if we aren’t the ones with the problem that needs to be resolved? Hear me out. I am not saying, by any stretch, that like Mary Poppins, I am practically perfect in every way. I am far from it. But why do we as women put ourselves through the misogynist torture of conforming to the expectation of New Year’s Resolutions?

I have a friend who received a new fitness tracker for Christmas to help her “stay on track” with her resolutions. She literally lives, eats, breathes and sleeps by this new tracker. She uses it to measure everything and I worry that’s she is beginning to use it to measure her self-worth. I think many of us measure ourselves by numbers on a scale, on a screen, on our paychecks, on our mailboxes. The new year is a perfect time to change that behavior!

(Give me a minute as I descend from my soapbox.) Here is my point, dear readers. Let’s all realize that we are good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, tidy enough and smart enough. Simply stated, we are enough. If we choose to improve ourselves, that’s a great thing. But we don’t need a new year to do it.

If we are going to make a resolution, let’s resolve to love ourselves. And let’s actually keep that one!

Happy New Year!

Feeling Grateful in 2017

By: Ashley Whisonant

The beginning of a new year is exciting. I love the fresh start and new beginnings. Instead of the usual New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, saving money, eating better, etc.….I decided to do something different than I have ever done. I want to focus on being grateful for the blessings in my life. This certainly does not mean everything is wonderful and picture perfect 24/7. We are all dealt tough hands and have not-so-great-things happen. My goal for this year is to change how I view the negatives in my life.

While getting ready for work this morning, I noticed my few gray hairs. They were shining so proud in my mirror under the bright fluorescent lights. Old Ashley would have freaked out and made the fastest hair appointment. With my new outlook, I tried to focus on the positive. Having gray hairs means I am getting older. Look at all the amazing things getting The Gratitude Diariesolder has given me: financial security, a strong, healthy body, a loving husband and two great little boys. Getting older is not too shabby.

I recently finished reading The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. Her year of grateful living has been an inspiration for me. She has seen improvements in her marriage, work life, and health. This book is certainly a must read for the New Year.

Will everyday be perfect? No, impossible. But in 2017, I am going to focus on making my outlook more grateful.

It’s Never Too Early to Celebrate

By: Mary Pat Baldauf


One thing I’ve learned over the past 19 months is that if you’re lucky enough to get a second chance, you shouldn’t waste it. In that spirit, I’m already thinking ahead to the two-year anniversary of my aneurysm rupture.

Y’all know that since I started working out about five years ago, I’ve been wanting to do a 5K. I was starting to train right before the rupture, then everything went south. During the first three weeks, my muscles atrophied, and I couldn’t stand up or walk. Even at Shepherd, the consensus was that I would probably end up having to use a cane. (As an aside, my doctors credited my health and fitness level as one of the reasons I survived!)

I learned how to walk again, and since I came back home in July, 2015, I’ve been working with a trainer to regain my balance and increase my strength. Sadly, due to the damage done to my vocal cords during the intubation, if I overdo it – in the gym or just walking down Main Street – I lose my breath. My voice specialist is working wonders, but for now, she says no to running and/or training to run.

Recently, I saw a blurb about the Five Points Get to the Green St. Patrick’s Day Race, on (get this) March 18, 2017. On the spot, I decided to walk it just because I can! I looked at GTTG2015_ShoeprintLogo_VectorBWthe race website, and saw that you can register a team. Since this recovery and rehab has been a team effort, I decided that a team would be quite apropos.

Fitness friends, please join me in celebrating on March 18. We can meet up before the race and perhaps toast ourselves with a beer afterwards. I’d love to have some company for the walk, but if you’re a runner, I don’t expect you to slow down for me. Registration for Get to the Green is only $30, and you save $5 if you register on a team. You’ll also get a t-shirt, medal/bottle opener and free admission into the festival. The team name is BAMFs for #MPBStrong.

I close this post with a word of thanks to my fitness friends, folks I worked out with back in the days of those 5 a.m. workouts. My gym friends have been so supportive; they visited, prayed, sent cards and lavished me with love. Even now, they continue to encourage and motivate me.

One friend, Jenny, ran the Palmetto Half in April 2015, and then came to the hospital to give me her medal. At that time, she challenged me to get better so I could do that run. I don’t know if she thought I’d ever be able to do it, but the encouragement and tangible symbol kept me going. (And that medal STILL hangs in my room.) And while I may not run, I am gonna do that 5K, two years to the day that aneurysm ruptured.

Is there something that has always been on your to-do list? What is it and what steps can you take today to move you closer to achieving it? It’s never too early to start planning!

A Change in Plans

By: Mary Pat Baldauf 

It’s ironic that my last post was Putting My Aneurysm Behind Me. While I am ready to put it all behind me, there’s no getting around the fact that I have some deficits, such as a shorter attention span and a tendency to get overwhelmed. And whether temporary or not, I need to address them.

In rehab at Pathways, we had a session on goal setting. When we did sessions on calendaring, goals and such, I probably “checked out” a little. Those sessions, I rationalized, were for the folks who had “more deficits” than me. I’d never needed those things before, so I why I would need them now?

SMART GoalsOur session on goals focused on SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

I recently pulled up a book I’d purchased before the rupture: The Power of Less: The Fine Art to Limiting Yourself to the Essentials…In Business and In Life. The author is Leo Babauta, whose blog, Zen Habits, I discovered years ago.

I skimmed the book and put many of Babauta’s suggestions to work as I journaled on the computer. I listed all of the projects I want to complete. That in itself was a relief of sorts. Projects are different than a “to do” list in that they’re things that take more than a couple of hours to complete. Washing my bedding is a “to do;” getting my bedroom organized is a project. (And then some, LOL!)

Since coming home a year ago, my room has suffered quite a bit. So getting my bedroom organized was one of the three goals that I decided to focus on. I pulled out the SMART goals list and got to work.

SPECIFIC: I want to organize and de-clutter my bedroom.

MEASUREABLE/ACHIEVABLE/REALISTIC: I broke the project into smaller goals: the many facets of my bedroom that needed work, i.e. my closet, the stack of clothes at the end of my bed, the shelving unit under the window and more. From those goals, I picked a weekly goal. This week, it will be stack at the end of my bed. I will then designate a daily goal to help me accomplish the weekly goal.

TIMELY: I gave myself a deadline. I want to have my bedroom organized by September 24, my 50th birthday.

A funny thing happened. Once I laid out my goals, I found a new surge of energy. I felt less overwhelmed. I tackled the stack and made a huge dent in it, just in one day.

“Duh,” you might be saying. It’s not rocket science. I know that, and yet it’s like a brand new concept. I used to be able to do all of this without having to set goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces. But now, I need a little more structure. (Gasp! he pre-rupture me HATED anything that resembled structure. It stifled me. It definitely didn’t give me energy or help me be more productive.) In this way, it’s easy to see how the post-rupture me is a new and improved version of the “old me.” Mary Pat 2.0 may be a little more structured, a little different than before, but that is okay.

I need to end this post with an apology to my rehab therapists. A year later, it is crystal clear why I (yes, I) needed those sessions. I didn’t understand then, but now I do. While my recovery was miraculous, I didn’t get out unscathed. I’m more easily overwhelmed now, and the things I used to do without a second thought do require some thought now. My attention span is also a little shorter. Deficits aren’t a bad thing to have; in fact, when I’m able to see them, I’m able to address them.

Happy Planning!

Are you a planner and/or goal setter? If so, what has worked well for you? Do you have a favorite planner and/or system? Do you think you can be a planner and still be spontaneous?

Reasonable Resolutioning

By: Summer Brons

With the end of January on the fast-approaching horizon, we’re at a logical checkpoint to assess our progress on all those resolutions we set just a few short weeks ago. In the face of a promising new year, it’s easy to hold our heads high and jot our lofty ambitions down on paper (or scrawl them across a keyboard), confident that THIS will be the year we refocus and really buckle down on the pursuit of our dreams. “2011? What a joke! 2012 is going to be MY year,” we say to ourselves, a confident grin spreading from ear to ear.

So…reality time: How are things going so far?

Whether your goals are centered around health, work, home, family, or even a simple vow to spend more time doing absolutely nothing at all – it’s easy to fall off the wagon if you’ve set the bar too high for yourself.  We tend to be results-driven creatures with a love for instant gratification, disregarding the concept of a step-by-step process. This explains why many resolutions are discarded (or forgotten completely) before we’ve even it made it through the first quarter.  Folks throw in the towel because all they see on that list they wrote on December 31st are statements like, “lose 40 pounds,” “get a promotion,” “spend more time painting.” These are all great things to strive for, but where’s the plan of action?

The road to weight loss is paved with consistent exercise and a balanced diet. Instead of getting frustrated because the scale isn’t registering the numbers you’d like to see each morning, break the process down into bite-size chunks. You didn’t gain the weight overnight and you’re not going to lose it overnight, either. Figure out what steps you need to take to put yourself on the path to losing those 40 pounds and go from there. At first, your success may be found in getting to the gym four times a week and bringing a healthy lunch with you to work instead of eating fast food each day. Next, you’ll see success by realizing you’ve dropped five pounds. And guess what? Five pounds turns into eight turns into 15 and so on until one day…you’re at your goal weight! But be realistic, because it’s not going to happen by default just because you slapped a shiny “RESOLUTION” label on the idea and you happened to notice it’s nearly the end of January.

The same goes for your other goals. You want a promotion at work? Great! Figure out how to best position yourself to catch the eye of your boss and make them think of your name first when that new management position opens up later this year. Perhaps you can offer to take on additional responsibilities, assist coworkers without having to be asked to do it, show up on time (wait, that counts for something?), or…here’s a thought, ask that boss of yours if he or she has a few minutes to spare, then sit down with them to share your thoughts. A well-spoken “I really enjoy being a part of this company and I’m looking forward to future opportunities here beyond my current scope of work. Is there any advice you can give me that might help me along a path to advancement?” can go a long way in garnering respect and displaying ambition.  Remember, just like the weight loss intentions, just because you’ve decided you want a promotion does not mean you’re going to walk into work the next day with a corner office and a generous raise, so don’t get discouraged and give up hope when April rolls around and you’re still daydreaming about throwing staples at that loud, obnoxious coworker who sits two cubes up.

Finally, just to round out the few examples I mentioned above, Ms. “I’m going to paint more often in 2012” shouldn’t be prematurely tossing out the oil canvas, either.  Sure, it’s wonderful to take time out of each day to devote to creative efforts, but it doesn’t always happen. Besides life getting in the way, sometimes you just flat don’t feel like it. The creative muse can be a fickle thing, so quit beating yourself up if you don’t hit that goal to write 500 words each day or to practice your crochet technique for an hour each evening. Try something more manageable, like blogging three times a week instead of seven, or taking just two photos per day instead of ten to improve your photography skills. If you’ve included your hobby, passion or artistic endeavor in your new year’s resolutions, don’t forget to be just as realistic about your goals in this department as you are with everything else. Very few things happen overnight, bestselling novels included.

Remember, the key is to keep things MANAGEABLE. Don’t stand in your own way with an “all or nothing” mentality.  Progress is just as successful as seeing a goal ultimately come to fruition, so use those stepping stones along the way as motivation to keep going and as validation that you’re on the right track. You’re the only one who can make things happen for yourself, which, in turn, means that you’re the only one who can prevent things from happening, too.

So go ahead and take inventory of those 2012 resolutions.  If there’s any you’re struggling with so far, take some time to break them down further and create a plan to get from point A to point B…preferably in once piece.

Good luck!