Can you hear me now?

As I was walking into the building where I work, I said “Good Morning!” to a woman who was walking toward me. She looked up from her phone, made a barely audible grunt and then quickly looked back to her phone. This left me wondering about our new level of communication since the invention of the “smart phone”.  Have we in effect lost our ability to fully connect and communicate face to face with others?

I began to make it a mission to put my phone away when out in public, while meeting with friends and family, and at meal time. This gave me an opportunity to be more fully present with whoever crossed my path or was in company with. I also had a chance to be more observant of my surroundings.  My new motto was… “Look up!” The blue sky, fluffy clouds, the hummingbird buzzing around the flowers to feed would have all been missed if I had been looking at my screen.

This also gave me an awareness of all the people around me. I tried to make eye contact and verbally greet everyone who crossed my path. What I found was quite interesting. Some people who noticed I was looking at or smiling at them, would immediately reach for their phones thereby become instantly unavailable. Has it become a bubble of protection against being vulnerable or fully present?

I have witnessed couples at a restaurant each looking at their phones instead of one another. Sometimes texting one another across the table instead of locking eyes, smiling and talking. Has the way we talk to one another become the bravado of a text message and our feelings replaced with hearts, winky faces and laughing emojis?

There are mothers or grandmothers pushing the strollers with one hand and the other hand is scrolling what ever is on the screen. The baby babbles endlessly and eventually cries out when their little demands go unnoticed.  They are given a bottle propped up by a blanket or an iPad to keep them entertained, then the walking and scrolling continues. Is this the beginning of the disconnection and loneliness we so often feel?

So many people would rather video an accident or catastrophic event rather than reaching out to help someone in need. Are we losing our ability to have compassion and empathy for those who are suffering?

So  many case studies have shown how vital our need for connection is. Babies in orphanages have died when denied access to the warmth of human touch. Where are we headed as a human race when we have lost the ability to connect?

The question comes to mind … Do we want to spend our time behind the screen posting cute cat videos, looking for the right emoji for the stories of others and portraying only our most flattering photos and ideal life?  Or do we want to spend that time making memories, spending quality time with those we care about, being fully present and appreciating our surroundings, connecting with people who cross our path and actually living this real, gritty, complicated, sometimes messy and not always perfect life?  The answer lies in what warms our hearts and makes us feel the most alive. Listen closely…. Can you hear me now?

 

Do You See What I See?

An experience recently reminded me that two people could be sharing the exact same experience, but see two different things entirely.  I was having a conversation with one of our interns from France. He had asked what I had done over the weekend. I told him that on Saturday our group had cycled 77 miles and on Sunday we did another 40 miles. I told him I try and do at least 140 miles a week, but 116 as a minimum. He was surprised at the distance but even more so when I told him we cycled year round, even in the winter time. I went on to mention that I also strength train a few times a week and have a trainer for my bike when the weather gets really bad. His response was, “So you are a professional cyclist then!” I laughed and said, “Far from it! I just love cycling.” What he said next, sent it all home…”Well from my perspective, you are a professional. Anyone that puts that amount of time and effort into something is more than just a casual rider.”

I spent time really reflecting on this conversation because I often doubt my athletic abilities. I will psych myself out of doing a challenging ride because I feel like it is beyond my capabilities or training. I will be nervous that I won’t be able to keep up with the group or will run out of energy before we finish the ride. I don’t see myself as a strong climber, so I will shy away from rides that have a significant amount of elevation. This conversation reminded me that perception drives reality. What I perceive to be true is what will actually be true for me. If I allow all the limitations in my head to be at the forefront of my brain, then that is what will become my reality. In order to achieve greatness, you have to believe you can.

I heard a saying once, “Fake it until you make it.” To me that means if I want to be a great cyclist, then act like one! Act as if it is true rather than believing in my limitations. It means putting on my big girl panties and taking a risk, trying something new and not over think the outcome. Who cares if I end up not performing the way I wanted to, at least I tried! It means reaching for the higher branch, and when I feel like quitting I tell myself, “Suck it up Buttercup!” When I am able to step out of my comfort zone and do what I think is going to be really challenging, I often surprise myself. Not only am I able to achieve the goal, but far better than I imagined I could. This leads to greater confidence in my abilities and a new platform to stand on for achieving the next goal.

For me, this requires me to stop seeing things in black and white and realize there are so many colors and hues that I have yet to see and experience. Am I professional cyclist? No, but so cool that someone else saw me that way! The real question is how will I chose to see myself? Who I think I am and who I actually am can be two different things depending on my perception. I strive to be a tremendous athlete with the goal of getting stronger and better over time.  In order to achieve this goal, I have to remember all that I have accomplished over the last three years; the time I did 100 miles at a 20 mph pace; the time I did a hilly ride and crushed those climbs to the point that someone asked where the motor was on my bike; or the time most recently that I did 87 miles with decent elevation with nearly an 18 mile per hour pace all in the small ring! That is evidence of the athlete that I am.  What I can actually accomplish over time is yet to be written. Who I will become a year from now all depends on my perception. Will I choose to live in the black and white or will I challenge myself to dive into the unknown of the color? I am excited to find out!

~ Kimberlee Anderson

Holiday Survival Guide

The Holidays are upon us! As soon as Halloween is over, the frenzy begins. Holiday music playing in the stores and on the radio with ads on TV all reminding us that we have a finite number of days to get ready. While for most, this is a very happy time of year, filled with joy and warm memories. But for others, it can be a source of pain and anxiety. Here are a few tips to keep the “Happy” in the holidays…

Cool, Calm, and Collected

It’s easy to get caught up in all the expectations that seem to accompany this time of year. When we look at the whole picture, it can be completely overwhelming with all that needs to be done. Instead of waiting until the last minute causing it to be a source of stress and anxiety, take a time out and create a plan. Make a list of all that needs to be done and break it down into small chunks. Make it a goal to accomplish one or two things each day.  That way, when the day arrives, you will be ready. But most of all, make it a priority to take care of yourself. Get your rest, eat healthy food, drink plenty of pure water, and make time to exercise. This will keep your stress level down and give you plenty of energy to do all that needs to be done.

Perfectionism is Overrated

When the day arrives, we want the meal to turn out perfectly, on time, everything in it’s place and the day to go off without a hitch. As the saying goes…”Expectations are premeditated disappointments.” Recognize that we are all human; expect that you will spill coffee on your great outfit; that the dog will run across your perfectly mopped floor with his mud-caked paws; that your mother will show up late; that you will trip and drop the turkey on the floor. Expect the worst, learn to laugh about it and cut yourself a break. Relax, allow the day to unfold the way that it does and enjoy the time with your loved ones; nobody expects you to be perfect.

Keep on Budget

It seems like so many people go into debt this time of year in an effort to shower those they love with an abundance of gifts. Then we work all year long to pay it off just in time to spend it all again. Instead of buying a gift just for the sake of giving, why not hone down your list of people you want to buy for, and set a budget.  Consider making a gift for something that would be a one of a kind treasure. Above all, give people the gift that matters most…your time, love and attention.

It’s Not Personal

Bringing the family all together can be the best of times and the worst of times. What starts out as being all hugs, laughter and joy can quickly turn to hurt feelings, crying and Aunt Patty leaving the party early totally pissed off.  Our families were our first friends in the sandbox and learning to deal with people of all types of personalities in the real world. Keep in mind that what people say and do is 100% about them and what you say and do is 100% about you so don’t take things personally. Everyone is doing the very best they can with the tools they have to work with, whether it looks like it or not.

Only See the Best

As you are making your guest list are you thinking about how your cousin has that annoying laugh, how your uncle drinks too much, that your aunt likes to gossip about everyone, how your little brother constantly pushes your buttons and you are wondering how you are going to make it through the evening?  All of us have dysfunctional families, just varies in degrees. Whatever it is that you focus on most, is what you will always see. Trying making a list of all you appreciate about each person and the flaws will quickly fade away leaving space to enjoy and appreciate the time.

All you Need is Love

Instead of looking at the holidays with a sense of dread, make a list of all that you are grateful for. With so much emphasis on the material, recognize that love is the reason for the season and allow that to be the biggest blessing of all. Even when things don’t go as planned, unfold perfectly like we had hoped, don’t we have so much to be grateful for?

May your holiday season be filled with an abundance of love, joy and blessings that become beautiful memories. These are the most precious gifts you will carry with you long after the season has ended for many years to come.

~ Kimberlee Anderson

Two Little Words That Can Alter The Course of your Life…

We have all heard it….”Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but Words can never hurt me.”  I, for one, never thought to question whether or not that was true. I knew how much physical pain could hurt, but never once thought about how powerful words can be.

The things that other people say to or about you certainly have an affect. Think about how you feel when your father brags about what a great job you have because of how incredibly smart and talented you are, all with pride written all over his face. The warm feeling around your heart and a smile from ear to ear knowing that your dad is proud of you; something you will never forget.  Now imagine asking your dad how you look and he says, “Don’t wear those pants, they make your butt look big. Looks like you put on a little weight.” No matter how you actually look, for a long time you will never be thin enough, beautiful enough, good enough. This will be a conversation that will play in your mind for years to come. Words have impact and the feelings, unlike physical pain or pleasure, can stick with you for a lifetime.

What about the words you say to or about yourself? The two most powerful words that can shape your life now and years to come are I AM. Whatever follows those two words will alter the course of your life for the positive or the negative. Once you become aware of the words you say about yourself, to others, or in the confines of your mind, you have found true power to alter your world. Who are you and what is the person you want to be? How do you describe yourself to others? What are you thinking when you look in the mirror when no one else is watching?

There was a time that I couldn’t find anything good to say about myself. I felt worthless and unlovable. I was challenged by a wonderful woman who saw the best in me. She asked me to spend time each day standing naked in front of the mirror. She told me to really look at myself, look into my eyes and tell myself…”You are beautiful, inside and out.” This was asking a lot because in those days I avoided mirrors altogether; but I was willing to give it a try. At first, I couldn’t take my clothes off and only spend a couple of minutes even looking. Slowly, over time, I did what she asked of me. When I was finally able to really look at myself, I cried and cried. That is when the true healing began and I opened up to the thought of loving myself…flaws and all.

We spend too much time beating ourselves up for all that we are unable to do and not enough time recognizing the greatness within. Make a list of all that you are and all that you want to be. No one has to see it but you and watch how your world changes….

I AM a warrior…I AM a goddess….I AM capable, powerful and courageous….I AM a tremendous athlete and a powerful cyclist …. I AM vibrant, lean, strong and healthy… I AM worthy of love and connection …. I AM kind, loving, caring and compassionate… I AM a good mother, daughter, sister, friend and lover… I AM playful, funny and sometimes goofy…. I AM a child of the Universe just like everyone around me… Just like every snowflake, I AM the one and only ME!

~ Kimberlee Anderson

Mind Your Own Business!

How many times did we hear that phrase while growing up? Along with the dreaded…”Nobody likes a tattletale!” Seems like it was kind of an American staple in everyone’s household along side the meat and potatoes. For me, there was also a slice of “Don’t speak unless you are spoken to.”….. and for dessert…”Don’t tell anyone or I will hurt your mother and it will be all your fault.”

To the outside world, we were this wholesome American Family, but inside the four walls it was something far different. The lesson I learned from an early age is to keep my mouth shut and mind my own business. I tiptoed lightly so as to not draw any attention to myself. The more I could be in the background, the safer I was. I tried to do everything by the book, remember all the little rules and most of all be the “keeper of all secrets”. The result was,  I lost my identity, all of my power and most of all, my voice. Even after leaving home, this took me years to find.

I think for many of us we were programmed to be the “good girl” and women that spoke up for themselves and others were “loud mouth bitches”. I think there is a time for minding your own business and allowing people to chose the kind of life they want to live. For me, the line in the sand is when people’s choices impact the right of other’s to live the life they choose. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that every human being, whether it be a man, woman or child, have the basic human right to feel safe and respected?

Safety and respect are two hot buttons for me. Now that I have found my voice, I have become an advocate especially for those who can’t speak up for themselves. There was a couple that lived next to me in my old apartment building. They mostly kept to themselves, but one evening I heard fighting, the sound of things being thrown against the walls, followed by crying. I knew those sounds and had become very accustomed to what happened next. There was a fire that filled me and I couldn’t just sit there and listen to it happen. I went next door, knocked on the door and was greeted by the man who was red-faced angry. “Yea, what do you want?” he said. “I would like to speak to your wife.” She slipped under his arm, and stood before me with wide eyes and tear stained cheeks. “Is everything okay here?” She shook her head “yes” with much more energy than there should have been. “Are you sure? Because you can come over and sit with me awhile.” I said. She assured me that everything was okay. I then turned to him, looked him straight in the eye and said, “I know what is going on here and if I ever hear anything like it again I am going to call the police and have you arrested for domestic violence. Are we clear?” He stared back at me, then looked away and said in a small voice, “Yes, we are clear.” I was shaking inside in part from fear, but the bigger part was a kind of fire.  I am certain now that what he saw in my eyes was “I dare you to fuck with me”.

People closest to me were furious that I went over there, telling me that I could have been shot or killed. I agree, that could have happened. But I had to listen to that voice inside of me that said…”You have to stand up for those who can’t do it for themselves”. Once my ex and I were at a party where he hit me so hard that I flew across the room and hit the wall. The place got silent, but then everyone went back to conversation and having a good time. Nobody. Said. A. Word! Now listening to what was happening, I just couldn’t sit there; pretend that nothing was going on, and not say anything. I could not, for one more minute, mind my own business when it could be the difference between life and death for someone else.

The next day I came home to a letter and a gift left at my door. The letter was from this man thanking me for caring enough to stand up for the woman he loves. He went on to say that this was a wake up for him to finally get the help he needs. He assured me that there wouldn’t ever be anything like that to happen again. He ended the letter with…The world needs more people like you, here is a small gift in appreciation. For the rest of the time I lived at that complex, I never heard any more problems coming from my neighbor. The next time I saw her, she hugged me and simply said, “Thank you!”

I don’t know what became of them and whether they were able to heal as a family or not. What I do know, is in spite of the risk to my personal safety at the time, I had to break the rules for this woman. I had to do for her what no one was willing to do for me. I would NOT mind my own business! Regardless of the outcome,  I feel good about finding my voice, stepping into my power and standing up for someone who felt powerless to stand up for herself.  It may have had little impact on this world that is so prone to anger and violence, but it all has to start somewhere. The voice inside me says often, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Like a stone that hits the water, we never know what the ripple effect could be.

~ Kimberlee Anderson

What would you do if you weren’t scared?

While scrolling through Facebook one morning, one of my good friend’s posts hit me like a slap in the face. “What would you do if you weren’t scared?” Wow! The message for me couldn’t have been more timely. I had been dealing with a lot of fear lately and this really made me think.

While growing up in an abusive home and being in an abusive marriage, fear was part of my every day life. I was afraid all the time. This was definitely legitimate fear, but even after I had left that far behind, the fear still lingered. I was afraid of making wrong decisions, trusting the wrong people, being hurt again in any way. This was irrational fear. I was finally safe so there wasn’t anything to really be afraid of. I knew I had a lot of work to do and set out to make some changes. I went to therapy, began incorporating meditation into my daily routine and decided that I had to start trusting MYSELF again. Trusting myself really was at the core of my fear. I had blamed myself for all that had happened. That somehow my decisions had led to my being abused. Once I understood that, I had to take baby steps to learn to trust. I needed to get out there and experience life, make some decisions knowing that some of them might not turn out as I had planned, but I would learn and grow from it all. On the positive side, some of them were bound to be really good ones, and as it turned out they were. I quit my job, went back to school and became a Massage Therapist, Natural Health Counselor and then a Life Coach. The best part is I was able to help others with all that I had learned and experienced. Still, the fear lingered like old tapes playing in the background. So when something would happen that would remind me of a time when I was not safe, this caused me to jump into fight or flight mode.

Fear, when left unchecked, can sabotage your life. When you are making decisions from a place of fear, you can not yield positive results. Just as when you plant an apple seed, a lemon tree will not grow. It took me awhile to figure this out. Some of the decisions I made in fear were like a wrecking ball in my life and in my relationships with others.  I made decisions that caused a lot of pain. Fearful decisions lead to fearful results. No matter how you try to ignore it, side step it, cover it up or pretend it doesn’t exist, fear waits in the shadows until it is addressed and confronted head on.

In 2008, the movie “Yes Man” came out and changed my life and relationship with fear. In the movie, Jim Carey was obligated to say “Yes” to whatever it was that was asked of him.  That concept really moved me. From there,  I decided that over the course of the next year, whatever opportunity came up, I was going to say “Yes” no matter what. This gave me a tool to confront fear and instead of backing off saying….oh I can’t do that!….I was forced to stare fear in the face and just do it. What I found was that I was living some pretty incredible experiences, but most of all I was growing. I began to feel more confident, strong, flexible, spontaneous, willing to try new things, and most of all FEARLESS! The quickest way to dispel darkness is to shine the light on it, and that is exactly what I was doing.  One year of this practice, turned into several years and life got better and better. Then on the morning of June 10, 2017 four of us were hit by a car while cycling. In an instant, that fearless, confident woman was laid out on the pavement and fear was back.

Over the last year, I have worked hard to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually from that experience. Physically, I have worked tirelessly to rehab my body and feel stronger than I was before. Spiritually, I have come to terms with what has happened and made peace with it. “Sometimes bad things happen to good people.” At the same time basking in the amazing miracle that we are all alive and truly grateful that will fully recover from our injuries. Emotionally, it has been a longer path. I have had to mourn the loss of the woman I was before and be open to the woman I am now becoming. I had to deal with PTSD again. My sense of safety had been shattered and trust in humanity was badly bruised. I had always been somewhat of a Poly Anna, but it seemed very basic to trust people not to run over you with their cars on purpose. None of it made sense to me.  When I am deeply hurt, I am  like a wounded animal that just wants to hide under the porch. I wanted to shut myself off from the world and stay in the safety of my own home. But that wasn’t the answer.  What I realized after all these years is that true safety and security resides within myself, not anywhere in the outside world. Cultivating that within, will help me feel safe no matter what is going on around me. So instead, I have challenged myself to be open and vulnerable with what I was feeling and experiencing. Most of all, I have had to confront the fear and walk through it. I made this decision because I couldn’t stand the thought of this person who hit us could be allowed to take something from me that I really love doing! He had taken enough already. Most of all, I really missed the part of me that was fearless. This part of the journey has not been easy. Getting back on the bike each and every time was emotionally grueling; sometimes feeling like I was hanging on by a thread. This is something I still continue to battle with at times, but I am determined.  What I have found, is little by little, that fearless, confident, strong woman is making a comeback.  Through it all, I venture to say that she will be back, only this time she will be better than ever!

When I saw my friend’s post….”What would you do if you weren’t scared?”….. The answer that came to me was “Say YES!” Yes to living a full and rich life! Yes to conquering fear! Yes to taking calculated risks to experience things in such a way I have never done before! Yes to challenges that lead to courage, strength and fearlessness!

So I challenge you to say “YES!” to whatever opportunities show up in your life over the next thirty days and see how your life changes. What you might find, is thirty days turns into years of expelling fear and experiencing life in a wonderful, more magical way. What do you say? Will you join me?  Just say “YES!”

~ Kimberlee Anderson

We never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory..

Yesterday I said goodbye to a friend. I knew him for only a few years, but his presence made an impact on me. He was an amazing man and had been through so much in his life yet had the most upbeat, positive attitude. He was always more concerned about the person he was talking to than what was happening in his own life. Little did I know he had issues with circulation in his legs. He was a powerful cyclist so every ride I ever had the experience of being with him, he was explosive on hill climbs and had the speed of a 12 year old. Earlier this year, he had some complications with a surgery and had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. We were all in shock! What a blow for such an avid cyclist; one that we could all identify with.  Yet in my attempted to encourage and comfort him, I found just the opposite; he comforted me! He had the most positive attitude about the experience, even joked about it at times, but most of all was determined to get back on the bike. He worked hard in his physical therapy and was healing much faster than the average person much to the amazement of his doctors and friends. He had a goal….to be back on the bike by spring and it looked like he was going to make it.

One evening, we received an email telling us that our dear friend had passed away. This was the biggest shock of all! He has well on his way to recovery and about to be fitted with his prosthetic. How could this have happened? This is an answer we will never receive. He was living his life, being happy, setting goals for the future and suddenly he was gone.

His memorial ride yesterday was packed with so many people who loved and cared about him. All telling the same stories about a great man who was kind, loving and generous to had touched so many lives in such a wonderful way. As I listened to the stories and shared one of my own, the things that stood out for me were these:

  • At the end of the day, no amount of money, job status or material possession means anything compared to the love and memories you share with others.
  • We always think we have more time; I’ll do that next week, next month, next year. Don’t wait until tomorrow to do all that you want to do.

Life is precious, relationships are priceless and every day is a gift. Live each moment as if it were your last because one day it will be.

Kimberlee Anderson