Physical fitness does not mean the most fit person or the person who finishes the most races is the healthiest. Taking care of your physical self involves the movement of your body, your food and drink intake, and how much you sleep.

Running a marathon can be life changing. I have checked that box, but today I am not able to run down the block. Yet I can still be fit in other ways. I refer to this as “fitness without a finish line.” I have no diagnosis besides “things happen as we age.” This is not a blog about fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and the like. I am not a doctor. But I work on finding physical activity I can do today that will allow my body to keep doing the things I ask of it 30 – 50 years from now. What kinds of things have you tried to get moving?

I am not a registered dietician. I am not going to tell you that gluten is Satan or that you need to only eat cabbage soup and bananas for a week each quarter so that you will live a more intentional life. But what food choices are sustainable long term for you? What changes are you willing to make?

Sleep is my jam. I go to sleep before not just my kids, but really – all kids. I think I was a pioneer in my previous life the way I sleep and wake according to the sun setting and rising. This used to embarrass me, but sleep is the new Botox! It will cure what ails you, gang. I aim to convince you of that.

Two Lies and a Truth – My Unsustainably Productive Life

I cried the whole way to work. And back. An hour and fifty minutes round trip, most of which was spent at hurtling down the highway at 75 miles per hour with tear-blurred vision.This was when I decided life as I knew it was no longer productive nor sustainable. 

Physically Unsustainable

Each day I worked around 10 hours in the office, commuted close to 2 hours, and went to night school for my MBA. To exercise I had to get up at 4:00 am, so I did. To spend time with my boyfriend I had to see him after 9:00 pm, so I did. Needless to say I was exhausted. My stomach was in knots, my head hurt, and I often cried before, during or after work. 

Mentally Unsustainable

Because I was stretched so thin, I was hurrying and making mistakes. And let me tell you – the only thing a perfectionist hates more than making mistakes is other people noticing them. So I spent an increasing amount of time checking and rechecking work. Mine and my direct reports. I micromanaged people into the ground and was a nightmare to work for. Honestly, a nightmare to be around in general. I was crabby and short tempered. I was moody and unpredictable. 

unproductive overwhelmed woman

Environmentally Unsustainable

Another byproduct of this season of my life was my house was a dump. Not hoarder level, but I was not comfortable in my own space. A giant pile of papers needed to be filed. I had clothes to iron and put away. I never ate at home because I was always too rushed to spend time to wash dishes. My garden was weedier than I preferred, and my yard was taller than both my neighbors and I preferred. I could not catch up. And this cluttered environment prevented me from seeing my home as my refuge. 

Life was not sustainable, but my belief system was preventing me from making changes. I wonder if that might be where you find yourself right now too. So we are going to play a game. Let’s play Two Lies and a Truth. But with a twist – I am going to tell you upfront which is which. 

Lie 1: I should be able to do this. 

Should, schmould. Several years ago my sister and I tried to make a list of all the “shoulds” we hear on a regular basis: 20 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of stretching, 5 minute face cleansing routine, 20 minutes of reading to your kids, 1 hour of personal time, 1 hour of couple time, 8 hours of sleep… The list went ON AND ON – it totaled about 42 hours per day of shoulds. Friend, I would like to suggest you reconsider the things you do just because you think you should. What in your life are you doing out of obligation or expectation? Stop “shoulding” on yourself and make space for the things that sustain you.

Lie 2: I am a horrible person because I cannot keep up

Once you start realizing how much you do out of obligation, please do not berate yourself. You are not a terrible person because you are not keeping up with expectations. Similarly, you are not a terrible person because you are not keeping up with other people. Do not judge your insides by other people’s outsides. For example, baking is not my jam so if there is a baked goods request for my kids, I am the add-it-to-the-online-grocery-order Mom.

I want to spend my time crafting or biking or reading – activities that bring me joy. Newsflash: our worth as a person is not measured by baked goods. But if baking is your thing – you do you! I have a friend who enjoys cooking and makes extraordinary baked creations that belong on The Great British Baking Show. That is her thing, she does not do it to show up the other moms (as she has been accused of). Let’s stay in our own lane and focus on what brings us each joy.

Truth: You can’t un-know this

Have you ever been shopping for a red sweater, then all of a sudden all you see in ads or crowds are red sweaters? Once something comes into your consciousness, you cannot be unaware of it. I invite you to consider that you may start to become more aware of your limits after reading this post. You are allowed to have limits and not feel ashamed of them. I invite you to become aware of what is soothing you and what feels like an itchy sweater on a hot day.

The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning.

M. Scott Peck

Celebrate that awareness. You don’t even need to act on anything, just be aware. What people, places and things feel unsustainable for you in this season of life? What seems to put a little wind in your sails? And know this – it is just a season. This too shall pass. Things will look different in a year or so and you can make other choices then. Consider today and what feels like it is draining your energy. 

If this resonates with you, but you are not sure what in your life is causing these feelings I want to help you. I have created The Sustainability Checklist to help you identify patterns in your own choices that might help you find clarity on what is and is not sustainable. Let’s work together to help create a Sustainable You!

Getting My Chi Straight

Sunshine through fall trees

Holy God I was emotional Sunday. At one point I was working on the online grocery order and about burst into tears. Not sure what was happening. Grocery prices weren’t that high.

I tried my usual cures – reading, crafting, getting shit done, cleaning, organizing. Zilch. I told Bixby to get his hiking shoes and the dog and we hit the trail. Five miles later I did not feel like ripping off my skin.

I think it was part endorphins from exercise. I think it was part Vitamin D from sunshine. I think it was part watching Lucille have the time of her life fetching sticks and swimming. All I know is it helped get my chi straight.

How do you pull yourself out of bad moods? What is your go to mood booster?

By |2019-11-03T19:43:09-05:00November 4th, 2019|Health & Fitness, Mental Well-being|0 Comments

What We Talk About When We Talk About My Ponytail

My ponytail is a permanent fixture that I will not be giving up anytime soon. I have had a love / hate relationship with it for decades. It has caused me literal pain, and I have had it cut off in desperate times. Sometimes I have worn a ponytail so much that when I finally take out the ponytail holder, my hair stays back. I have been grateful for my ponytail when I have hit the snooze button too many times and am running late. But it is more than a hairstyle and as I turned the corner into mid-40’s this year, I have really begun to absorb the full impact of what my ponytail really means to me.

There are several things we are talking about when we talk about my ponytail.

  • I am talking about where I choose to spend my time. Spoiler alert – I do not like to spend my time doing my hair. Honestly, I don’t even really want to brush it every day. So sometimes I don’t. Don’t get me started on washing it. Sometimes between how long it takes to dry and the fact that I am a sweat hog, it feels like my super thick hair does not fully dry between May and October. So to undertake a wash which requires blowdrying is sometimes more than I can stomach.
  • I am talking about doing what I am good at. And newsflash – it ain’t hair. And don’t tell me I just need to practice with it. I am not a girl who wants to practice with any beauty products. I do not want to “get good” at blowing out my hair. I just don’t give a shit about it. And I am done spending my free time doing things I don’t give a shit about. This is where Sustainable Sue asks the important question: Is this something you could do the rest of your life? And perhaps the more valuable question: is this something you WANT to do for the rest of your life? Part of what sustainability means to me is filling my time with activities that boost my soul. And never once have I felt calm and fulfilled when using a round brush. In fact, I threw out my round brush once I cut it out of my tangle of knotted hair.
  • I am talking about expectations. Specifically not spending time doing something just to meet the expectations of anyone else. I am a recovering people pleaser. I have a visceral response to thoughts of failing every hair dresser I have been to because I show up with my hair in a ponytail. No matter what the hair length or style, I come to my appointment in a pony tail. I feel like a failure because I have not maintained the look they gave me. A part of me feels like I need to get a blow out to go get my hair cut. But then I would be cheating on my hair dresser, and that would also hurt her feelings. It’s exhausting. Let me tell you what a mentor said to me about being a people pleaser, “OK, great Susan. Now where are all the pleased people?” Ouch.

Perhaps the more valuable question:

Is this something you WANT to do for the rest of your life?

  • I am talking about being comfortable. I have reached an age where I ditch the work heels for Danskos. I quit being so damn cold and just bundle up in a coat, hat, scarf, and mittens instead of looking cute when I’m outside. I just want to be comfortable, and my ponytail supports that. It understands me. It helps me look professional when I pull it into a low pony for the office. It just gets outta the way when it migrates to the top of my head to garden. Being comfortable is also a part of what makes me beautiful.
  • I am talking about feeling beautiful. My hair does not define my femininity, nor make me beautiful. I listened to the This is Us Too podcast episode from Oct 4, 2019, when Mary talked about the time she cut her hair off. Her husband compared her long-haired before to Idina Menzel and her pixie cut after to Hugh Grant. Honestly, this pissed me off. Having long perfectly styled long hair does not make me beautiful any more than having short hair makes me ugly. When I am comfortable, I am sure I come across more confident. When I am not fidgeting with my hair I can focus on things like the actual conversation we are having.
Notice the dents in my hair where I took out the ponytail holder moments before school pictures were snapped. Not to mention the flyaway wing dings and cowlicks.
  • I am talking about doing hard things. I remember being in early elementary school when my mom decided I would be doing my own hair going forward. Trying to pull a ponytail holder through my rats nest and loop it around to secure my mop made it feel like my hands were not coordinating with my brain. But I did it. And I got better at it. I hear some of you saying, “See, you DID practice.” No, this was necessity. No way was I going to school with my hair down – especially if it was a PE day! No way was my mom doing it for me – that baton had been handed off. Those first few weeks were rough, yo. Lumpy bubbles of hair snarls. Escaped sections falling down or never making it into the pony tail holder. But I did it. Like I tell my kids – just because something is hard doesn’t mean we don’t do it.
  • I am talking about my style. I went through a stage where I needed to have a “grown up” hairstyle. At the time I felt that because I had the same pony tail as I did when I was in elementary school, I was presenting myself as immature. So I had it cut off. Short. Like by a lady who worked in a barber shop. She only did men’s hair. And mine. This was “professional and grown up Susan” – or so I thought. When I interviewed for a job with that cut, someone later told me that I “looked very severe, like a Scandinavian prison matron.” I don’t want to present myself to the world as severe and unapproachable. Now I see lots of women my age and older who wear a pony tail on the regular. I don’t think any less of them. Some are incredibly accomplished professionals. Some have all gray or stark white ponytails. The common thread is that they are comfortable in their own skin. And if we go back to the Sustainable Sue litmus test: is this something you WANT to do for the rest of your life? The answer would be a resounding HELL YEAH!

But there is one thing we are not talking about when we talk about my ponytail.

More importantly, there are things my ponytail cannot do. I mean seriously – it is just HAIR!

  • My hair does not speak for me. I went through a period of life where I felt like I was invisible to the people around me. I was really struggling and would make jokes about my struggle, but no one really saw me, including my husband. So I decided to have my hair cut off to shock him into noticing. He did not comment. Not even to say he hated it. Needless to say that did not help me feel understood. And I reached a tipping point where I did not want that despair to be something I felt for the rest of my life. It was unsustainable for me. Turns out I had to actually tell him how I felt instead of having my hair communicate for me.

What are you doing (or not doing) because of the expectations of others? What answer does your heart and gut give you if you ask, “is this something I WANT to do for the rest of my life?

By |2020-06-17T17:19:00-04:00October 30th, 2019|Health & Fitness, Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Physical Therapy “Assistant”

A dog arse in the face is helpful whilst working on hamstring flexibility.

Last September I had knee surgery to clean up some old sports injuries. Part of rehabbing from that is regular strength training and stretching exercises. Lucky for me I have a Physical Therapy Assistant who lives with me full time. Her name is Lucille – here she is helping my with my workouts.

Squirrels are ideal resistance for hip abduction strength training.
By |2019-05-19T15:51:16-04:00May 20th, 2019|Health & Fitness|0 Comments


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