RULE #3: You did it! Believe it! Celebrate it!


There comes a point in your life when your kids might actually know a little something more than you do. (Just a pinch.)

For example, the other day, the stars aligned, and Megan (my college music therapist daughter) and I actually talked on the phone. No cryptic text messages where we had to guess what the other person was actually thinking. We could converse. It was truly amazing! It is truly amazing when that happens before midnight.

Anyway, I was telling my daughter, Megan, about my blogging class and explaining how excited I was that I earned a good grade on my first blog post. Megan congratulated me and was truly happy for me. It was at that point; that a thought suddenly hit me, and I downplayed my own efforts saying, “Yes, but what if the teacher gives everyone a good grade so they feel comfortable actually blogging online?”

Megan responded with, “Stop right there, mom; you have ‘Imposter Syndrome!’ ”

I thought, “I have what? When was I afflicted with that?”

Megan repeated, “Imposter Syndrome. You know like when you accomplish something good, and you question your abilities. You feel like an imposter. But you’re not.” Apparently, I have been suffering from this affliction for quite some time, but I just didn’t realize it. Until now, when Megan put a name to it, and I finally realized it. I do suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Sometimes. (Okay often.)

You-have-OvercomeImposter Syndrome – yes, it is a new buzzword for anyone (not just me, thank goodness) who feels like a phony, a fake, like they shouldn’t be accomplishing all they are. Hundreds of thousands of people are walking around with this illness. I’ve felt it before I go into a conference, during meetings, when I accomplish a huge project and even complete it on time. I’ve felt it often. Who has given me that mentality? How did it happen? Who can it happen to next?

It is not just women who suffer from this affliction; it can also be men and even brilliant Internet Technology (IT) people like my son, Zach. Megan said she was talking to Zach  ̶  I was privately ecstatic that they converse without my forcing them.  ̶  and he said he was at a conference where they were talking in-depth about “Imposter Syndrome” in the IT Field. Apparently, even intelligent, smart IT people (I say that because my son is in that category and not just because I gave birth to him.) suffer from Imposter Syndrome where you accomplish something; but you don’t attribute it to your own success.

Zach recalls two types from his training, “This is you, mom. One in which you need to over-prepare. (Like writing 35 pages for an 8-page master’s assignment? Yes, I have actually done that.) So when you succeed, you don’t attribute it to what you know already. Instead, you attribute your success to your over-preparation, not your own personal achievement.” Self-admittedly, I do that; but I verbally pointed out his sister, Megan, is like that as well. (Lucky her … to get that from me.) Zach goes on to say, “So, the flipside to the Imposter Syndrome is when you think you can’t do it, and you put it off, put it off, and put it off  … until you do it last minute really hurriedly. So when you succeed that way, you think ‘well, it was just luck and not by any of my own doing.’ ” I admit to that one as well in which my son, Zach, and possibly his sister, Hannah, gets from me. (My poor kids!! See I’m doing it again. They are lucky to have me.)

Forbes magazine estimates that around 70 percent of people experience Imposter Syndrome. Seventy percent! This reminds me of a phrase I have used quite often “Fake it until you make it!” The challenge is, what is “it”? Will I be happy when I accomplish my Masters? Do I celebrate the fact that my kids have turned out to be pretty darn swell adults? Why am I not celebrating that I have been successfully working in graphic design for over 30 years? While I have lost 40 pounds, I’m still not happy because it’s not 80 pounds! Why not?

Why can’t I take a moment to celebrate my accomplishments? Pat myself on the back? Look around and appreciate all that I have accomplished? I’ve raised three kids (without strangling anyone) who are hard workers, nice people, and good members of society. I’ve always worked successfully in my field (without strangling anyone) even though it has changed tremendously with the growth of computers and the internet. I’ve taught efficiently on the side for around 10 years (without strangling anyone). I’ve been married for more than 25 years (again, without strangling anyone), and for the most part, I am happy. Casey in my blogging class says, “Sometimes, we all just stress out way too much and don’t enjoy life successfully because we have to be perfect at everything and if we are not, we bring ourselves down to self-loathing and other insecurities.”

While the Imposter Syndrome could sometimes motivate me to do more and be more – there are moments when it could possibly kill me for trying to do just that. At some point, I need to be happy with “it!” ̶  no matter what “it” is. While there are times you will still need to fake it  ̶  trust me, I do every day  ̶  we need to take the time to listen to our feelings and fears, validate them, and then take note of our accomplishments  ̶  even if that accomplishment is simply getting out of bed for the day. And then, stand up for ourselves – even if that means silencing our harshest critics: ourselves. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “Girl … or guy, you’re crushing it!” C’mon do it. Then fist bump yourself. In other words, take one moment to list, celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishments.

Now, go call your college kids. Who knows  ̶  what you might learn.


RULE #2: You are going to want to give up. DON’T!

Subtitle: I didn’t lose weight to sell you something!


“I’m going to die! I’m going to throw-up! I’m literally going to throw-up in front of everyone, and then die!” Or so I think. The music is pumping as loud and as sharp as the pain in my feet. My thoughts swing wildly from “I can’t do this” to “I’m doing this … I’m doing this. Did you see me do this?” I’m straining a smile at my friends as sweat is dripping down my forehead, into my eyes, and running down my back. I’m trying not to pee my pants or think about how much time we have left. My friend, Angie, is on the throes of death with me, smiles back through gritted teeth to say “This sucks!” as the rock-hard instructor, Emily, is yelling, “Stay with me, team! Get those knees up! You can do it!” and the music is pumping ironically to Axwell and Ingrosso’s, “I love you … Even though I don’t like you right now.” While I’m thinking about what I’d like to do with my knees and it ain’t kick ‘em higher.

* * * * *


On January 17, 2017, I started Weight Watchers, something I’ve done maybe six, seven, eight times before. A friend was joining at the beginning of the year when they were having a sale.

Something needed to be done. I flew out to Vegas with my mom a half a month prior and needed an extension in the seat belt. An extension!!! It was mortifying. Although I asked discreetly, I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I asked, especially the three larger men squeezing into the seats behind me – who consequently didn’t need extensions!

As if that weren’t motivation enough, I’d lost my dad three months prior, following his health’s steady decline. My sister-in-law, who is less than a year older than I am, was going through treatment for Image result for Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) (a fancy way to say “really bad cancer”). Both of these motivated me to be physically active. I tell myself, “They’re not physically able to work out. I AM physically able to, and yet I don’t.” It’s kept me motivated to get into shape. Sadly, both have passed on now, and I miss them terribly.

When I first began working out at Just for Ladies, an all-women’s fitness center, a little over two years ago, I had to keep telling myself things like, “I can do anything for a minute, fifteen minutes, an hour.” And, “No matter how bad I look or how poorly I’m performing, I’m still lapping everyone on the couch.” I still say both of these to myself from time to time, (self-talk is pretty important to an over-thinker) but overall, the classes are getting easier, and I always feel better WHEN I’M DONE – and while I’m often skeptical, I always survive!

Exercising has also helped me deal with ENS (A.K.A. “Empty-Nest Syndrome” which Wikipedia says “It is not a clinical condition.” I beg to differ, Wikipedia!  I think I would be depressed with the empty house if I went home right away, so I go work out instead. By hitting the gym before going home, I de-stress from work while overcoming the loneliness of not having kids running around the house 24/7.

Even though I feel and look better from exercising, I don’t always want to do it. Luckily, I am blessed with friends who drag me along to work out, friends who drag me along to Weight Watchers meetings, and friends and co-workers who challenge me with FitBit “Workweek Hustles.”

Not only do they drag me along, but my friends are there to celebrate successes with me, and commiserate when things don’t go as planned – and consequently, I buy and EAT a whole sleeve of Thin Mints.

Moreover, I DEFINITELY could not do all this without the support of my husband, Sam, who actually eats ground, brown turkey in recipes (instead of hamburger) without grumbling (too much), makes me fish on the evening before weigh-in (It is super important to eat on point the night before weigh-in.), and puts up with me when I’m “hangry” (that is hungry and angry – which happens often). He truly has been an amazing partner in this journey.

And that’s what it is: a journey. Right now, I’m somewhere in the middle of mine.

Weight-loss-journeyOne of my first goals was to lose 50 pounds by the age of 50. I turned 50 in October. While I’ve *only* lost 40 pounds, I tell myself that I still have several months to go before I’m not 50. (Am I right? It still counts!)

Along the way, I’ve learned that we all need friends to help us in our health journeys, and we all need to strive toward our own definition of what a healthy lifestyle is. Your journey could be more like hiking a mountain range, with ups and downs, or it could be like climbing straight up a hill. The main thing is to keep going, keep working at being healthy, and keep doing it for yourself.

Here’s where I’d like to challenge you to set some healthy goals. I know many of you are way healthier than I am (trust me, I see you at the gym every day.), and I am often inspired by your willingness to run marathons, eat healthy, and work out over your lunch hours. I would like to challenge those of you who have never taken a workout class to do so. Trust me, it’s okay if you can’t do everything … just move. Where I go, it’s a nonjudgmental environment. If you feel judged where you go, go somewhere else. Try something different. Focus on adding more produce and protein to your diet. Drink more water. Figure out one (or two, or three!) things you could do to be healthier, whatever “healthier” means for you. But don’t do it for me; do it for yourself.

And trust me; it is easier if you take some friends along for the ride.


Rule #1: Life as Empty-Nesters Can Be a BEACH!

No-kids-at-homeWhen I envisioned what life would be like as an empty-nester, I imagined long walks on the beach, hand in hand. (I know … I live in Nebraska and we don’t have beaches, but you get the picture.) Lazy afternoons at the coffee shop playing games and passing little knowing nods and smiles. Laughing, enjoying my husband’s company and not worrying about a thing … except how we were going to pay for three kids in college at the same time.

What I did not envision is me at my computer at 3:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, greasy hair from not showering for two days. Ice packs on my back from a hard Saturday morning PiYO class (that’s Pilates and yoga, combined – as if one alone wasn’t hard enough!). Still wearing my pajamas and stained bathrobe. Yelling at my husband that he passive-aggressively, on purpose didn’t buy onions for a recipe he was trying to throw together for a Super Bowl party with a soup competition.

Why did I do this to myself? What was I thinking when I signed up for classes? Why did I think that at 49, I could possibly go back to school? The last time I was in school, the internet hadn’t even been invented yet. I had to ask my college students how to use the internet to write a paper! (Let me tell you, it is sooo much easier than typing it one painstaking page at a time on a typewriter, but it is still hard.) I keep telling myself, “If it were easy, everyone would be in school.” And, they aren’t; so that proves that it isn’t, right?

I go through these mini panic attacks every time I have more than a two-page paper to write. And yet, I still trudge on. I’m now halfway through; that’s a total of 15 credit hours. This may not seem like much, but it was a heck of a lotta blood, sweat, and literal tears … lots of tears.

Why, when we were at the cusp of what could have been some amazingly relaxed years that only parents dream about, did I decide to go back?

Maybe it’s because keeping my mind occupied means I don’t constantly wonder what my daughters are doing, who they are talking to, or what new friends and adventures they are partaking in this week, without me knowing. Maybe it’s because, after 15 years of working at a University, I decided to jump on the education bandwagon and just get that Masters I’ve been dreaming about for years. Maybe it’s because I need a piece of paper as validation that I’m good enough and smart enough (and people like me). Maybe it’s because I’m bat-shit crazy and just can’t take having breathing room – or what other people like to call “relaxation” – in my life. I don’t know. But I did it. I am doing it. I went for it! I am focusing on the dream of furthering my education and it is exciting, engaging, thrilling, horrifying, and terrifying, all at once. Some days I feel so proud of myself I could burst; other days I burst out crying from being overwhelmed with just trying to type a simple paragraph.

Why am I telling you all of this? How does this even matter?

Because the reason I was yelling at my husband had nothing to do with onions. Okay, I may have been just a little upset, but the real reason I was yelling at my husband is because I felt overwhelmed, depleted, and stressed out: I had been working on homework for two days solid, I was sore from Saturday morning PiYo, I had papers to grade for a class I was teaching on the side of my 40+ hour job, my butt was starting to mold to the chair to where eventually I would have to get a crowbar to pry it off, I was tired of looking at hundreds of tiny little seeds on the floor that fell off my houseplant and that would be there until they sprouted in the spring, I had bills to pay (which is always so much fun), we had to get ready for a Super Bowl party, AND MY HUSBAND DIDN’T BUY THE DAMN ONIONS!!!

I was a stressed-out mess.

This was not how I envisioned empty-nesting at all.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” Heck, it’s a miracle I get out of bed some days. It’s a miracle my husband and I are still married. I believe in miracles. I believe that with hard work, a forgiving and loving husband, and possibly a sprinkle of self-confidence, a cup of panic, and two buckets more of tears – someday I will complete my Masters. I can’t wait. No, seriously, I don’t know if I can wait! It will be thrilling, exciting, and I will know I did it on my own, with the help of a few hundred close friends, colleagues, and family members.

If I can do it, you can, too. Going back to college may not be what trips your trigger or gets you excited to be alive, but I’m challenging you to find something that does. Take that leap of faith, believe in miracles, and do it. I am so looking forward to the day I get to don a cap and gown and celebrate this amazing accomplishment because after that, I’m taking one afternoon to sit in the coffee shop with my husband, take a long walk on the beach, … or at least, take a nap.