“Alison, this year will be hard.”

“Alison, this year will be hard. But I will carry so much of the burden with you if you let Me. You will grow in so many ways, in more ways than just one. You are ready for it. I am with you always. It will be very good.”

I was prayer journaling on January 3, 2020, and these are the words I had in my heart that God was responding to me after I probably word-vomited a bunch of my anxieties and fears to Him.

This journal entry was written before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, before I left Boston, before my relationship ended, before political and social battlefields blew up, before death and anxiety consumed everyone’s minds, before starting my new career, before being in solitude for 6 months. I’m no prophet, because this could apply to many different years of my life, but it was made very clear to me this year that things would be particularly difficult.

“I will carry much of the burden with you if you let Me.” There were many times I did not let God carry the burden with me this year, because I thought I didn’t have time to think about anything except all the things I just listed. Those were the times when “difficult” became “crushing,” and when I felt the ground beneath me collapse. But in all the times I allowed Him to come and be with me, “difficult” became “difficult but peaceful.”

I’m not here to say that every hardship can be turned into a happy ending now that it’s December 31st. There is a bitterness that humanity tasted this year that won’t go away by holding hands (definitely not that) and singing kumbaya. Hard days are made harder when you specifically asked God to help make the day easier and He didn’t. Death and loss are harder when you prayed that God would perform a miracle and He didn’t.

But God is not wrong. Do not be mistaken — COVID (and all the other bad things of this year) needs to die in H-E-double hockey sticks; I hate it all so much. But as Fr. Mike Schmitz says in this video: God never promised we would not suffer, but He did promise that He would always be with us. “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)

My last post about solidarity is an ode to this fact. I said to God about 20 times before 8:00am this morning at work: “I can’t do this, Lord. I can’t do this.” But He made His crown of suffering readily visible in my mind. On January 3, 2020, He promised I would grow, and I would not have grown on this day, in this year, had He not let me suffer with Him, as much as I wished He didn’t let me.

“It will be very good.” Death is not good. Suffering is not good. But into whatever I allow God to enter, suffering and death included, it will be very good. Just like the day Jesus suffered and died is called Good Friday.

Some things I still feel have not shown to be very good at all — continued death, continued division, continued hopelessness. Some things I can see are indeed very good — the Zoom calls with relatives; the virtual book clubs; the new, rediscovered, and transformed relationships; the job that both drains and sustains me; the time I received to fall in love with God again.

“You are ready for it.” The times of the past are now 1000x sweeter when I think about them. Seemingly dumb and insignificant memories and experiences of friends, family, and faith have become powerful motivators for me when I’m feeling very low. I am grateful for every sweet and bitter moment that has readied me to be standing in my kitchen typing all of this half asleep right now (before 9:00pm, might I add).

God has kept all His promises this year, and at first it seems to be at my dismay. I wish it wasn’t so hard and I wish He didn’t ask us all to go through 2020. But even the “best” year is not good unless the One who is Goodness Himself is with us. He is with us, if we allow Him to be, and that is very good.

Happy 2021!

So tell me: Anything you want about how you feel about this year or the next!

Solidarity!

pray.

A big thing for which I am grateful these days is the solidarity I feel with my family, friends, patients, colleagues, role models, and strangers quite honestly during these times…and just during life in general. I am realizing more and more that one of the things that ENERGIZES me and gives me motivation is knowing that there are others who are laboring and toiling alongside me (in the theoretical sense, not the physical sense because…you know).

I have been praying a lot about the Holy Family (i.e., Jesus, Mary and Joseph) being with me in my mundanity and also in the stresses of work. I imagine their humble yet incredibly loving actions in their daily work, and that brings me a good deal of consolation.

Pin en Moyers
painting by Mike Moyers

eat.

I made these pumpkin cheesecake crumb muffins this weekend, and they are perfectly sweet and moist. A good crumb wins me over every time.

move.

Workouts continue to be planned approximately 5 minutes before I do them depending on how I am feeling and how much time I have. Last night I had 40 minutes from start to finish, so after a warmup, I did 5 rounds of 10 KB snatches on each arm (35#) followed by a 15 minute HIIT:

3 rounds (30 sec hard work // 30 sec rest):

groove.

I put up some Christmas lights this past weekend inside and outside the house, and it’s really quite pitiful humble, and I call the decor setup my “frat house festivity,” but seeing even just a glimmer of cheer makes me happier than Christmas decorations ever have.

Also, I tried to learn this Kyle Hanagami choreo to the song “Monster” by Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, and I’ll say it was moderately successful, though I don’t look as good as these dancers, and there are a couple links in the choreo that I have not gotten down. But learning choreo again made the dancer in me very happy!

This was a quick post, but I have been wanting to pop in for a while now! Hope you guys are having a marvelous week so far 🙂

So tell me:

What is something that FIRES YOU UP to keep going when things feel like a drag?

Are you decorating your house for any of the upcoming holidays?

Crumb topping – yay or nay?

Do you ever watch videos a million time to learn the dance (“yes,” say all the Tik Tok fans of the world)

“I need You desperately.”

These titles are sounding more dramatic with each blog post, good grief.

pray.

One of the things that I have been praying under my breath (and mask) during the work day — when I feel like my sympathetic nervous system is at level 10,000 as I run around to different patients, manage customer service, perform interventions properly, and document all the things — is:

“Lord, I need You DESPERATELY.”

A lot of my prayer, any time of day, has involved some sort of plead for help from God, because hot dang, the days can be long and hard. I cannot do it alone.

But I am hangin’ in there!! My colleagues, family, and friends have been incredibly supportive and loving, and the Lord is for SURE sustaining me.

eat.

Thanksgiving is coming up, holy tamales. My brother’s girlfriend ordered the Blue Apron Thanksgiving dinner for us, which involves a cheesy cornbread and an apple peanut PERSIMMON crumble (!!???). How cool!? I love love love cooking Thanksgiving foods my own way, but it’ll be fun to do something new this year. #2020 mix it up ya know?

In terms of things I already have eaten, last weekend for my brother’s birthday, I made wagyu beef burgers (from frozen; I ain’t that skilled) from a Costco kit that included brioche buns, bacon, and truffle butter *drool face.* Also these peanut butter s’mores bars, which were killerrrrr. He let me keep half, so I had a tasty dessert the whole week.

I had so much fiber last week, my poor organs. But my happy cardiovascular system.

move.

Moves just happen when they happen, but quite honestly I feel as powerful and strong as ever! Every repetition is focused on high quality contraction and motor control in order to maximize the efficiency. It’s still just me and Kettlebellarmine (my 35# KB) and my pull-up bar.

I definitely need more sleep too, which will help my workouts to feel a little better. But here’s a recent leg workout I did that got me sore:

  • 3×10 Bulgarian split squats with pulse at bottom (each leg)
  • 3×8 squat with tapbacks // 3×12 KB swing to reverse swing
  • 3×8 lateral step downs each leg

That’s the extent of my workout volume these days. Work tuckers me out enough, and I’m still going on walks. Like I said, life is about just moving when I can and quality>quantity!

grooves.

I have been obsessed with watching Cimorelli videos in my free time. They’re a band of sisters who are incredibly girly and screamy but also so loving and supportive of one another and others; they’re just wonderful. They have beautiful voices, beautiful faces, and beautiful souls, and they make me feel like I’m part of their family, which sounds cheesy as FLIP, but ya girl can use as much ~community~ as I can at this time of COVID. I’m sure you feel.

I hope my American friends have a fantastic Thanksgiving, even if it’s low key, even if you’re alone, and even if you’re working. I am thankful for you reading this ♥︎

So tell me:

Is there something you say under your breath to keep you going on the stressful days?

Any plans for Thanksgiving?

What are some ways you like to exercise when you’re tight on time?

The thing that is worth it.

pray.

Last week brought several challenges at work that have caused me to grow and {hopefully} become a better clinician and communicator to my patients. I am grateful for compassionate and wise mentors who are my colleagues as well, who continue to support me in this journey as a brand-spankin’-new physical therapist.

Last Sunday, when I committed to staying off Instagram for the next few months, I also committed to silent prayer for 20 minutes per day and 10-15 minutes of prayerful reflection at the end of the day. I also committed to being more mindful about avoiding emotional eating at the end of long, draining work days. And importantly, I committed to staying accountable to my great friend, Sarah, with a checklist of whether I actually stayed faithful to those commitments each day. All she has to do is read my text (and give me a little bit of tough love if I was not faithful).

When I committed to these things, as small as they are, I wanted to make so many excuses as to why I should not or could not do them. But what I knew in the depths of my heart was that there would be every amount of doubt, fear, and pride in me that fights against me sticking to these commitments, because actually following through with them would be worth it. Whatever that means… it would be worth it.

Even after just one week, staying faithful to all those commitments has been worth it, because I now get so much more time intentionally spent with the One who Loves me and the One who I love. And doing that makes all the difference in how I handle work; in how I live singly; in how I can give to others; and in the degree of freedom, joy, and peace within me (which grows exponentially as I spend more time with Him).

A word of encouragement: If there is something in the back of your mind and the depth of your soul that you have been thinking about doing to improve your faith life, your relationship with God, your inner peace — whatever you want to call it — do it and commit to it today, because it will be worth it. And don’t be afraid to put up a little fight for it against all the things/feelings/perceptions that hold you back.

eat.

I made Bisquick pancakes yesterday after Mass — the “ultimate” version on the back of the box, along with banana slices in there — topped with plain Greek yogurt, pb, and maple syrup and served with a glass o’ milk. I was a HAPPY gal.

I also have been working through a very large batch of frozen tilapia, which I have been seasoning with Costco seasoning salt, fried in olive oil with sauteed onions, some other vegetable (either kale or spaghetti squash) and topped with feta cheese, and it is dynamite. Often followed by some sort of carby thing because I’m not trying to be keto.

move.

I am currently typing with both of my hands wrapped intricately with athletic tape thanks to some gnarly rips from Kettlebell Sunday Swings yesterday. We did a snatch ladder going up 5-6-7-8-9-10 each arm and then back down the ladder. OWWW.

Other fun moves included a hike up Bear Mountain on Saturday with a new Sunday Swings friend, Charlie (@teamwagon)! It was an absolutely GORGEOUS weekend here in NY, so we took advantage of the weather while the fall foliage is still magnificent.

Great convo, moves, and grooves!

God is good.

groove.

I played the game “Among Us” virtually with some friends last night, and I must admit that it was a hysterically fun time. I must also admit that a 10-year-old patient of mine told me that he was playing it with his friends a couple weekend ago, and this was my reaction: “*gasp* I’m going to play that with my friends TOO!” Felt like a weird point of connection with someone younger than half my age.

Hope you all have a blessed week 🙂

So tell me:

What is something to which you have committed for yourself that was worth it?

Have you ever taken a social media break of any kind/length? How did it go for you?

What was the most fun thing you did this weekend?

Have you played the game Among Us?

“Discipline equals freedom.”

pray.

I first saw the above phrase on my new friend @rebecca.rouse ‘s instagram. The idea is that choosing to do what is good, even if it is dang hard in the moment, will ultimately make you free to be the best version of yourself and to be able to serve others well (or at least, that’s my interpretation of the phrase). It can be applied to fitness (Rebecca is an absolute B E A S T) of course, but I’ve actually been praying with the phrase a lot, as I think it can apply to all areas of life — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Recently, the decision to be more disciplined in several different areas in my life has been brewing in my heart.

  1. Less time on social media. I started this year with a 15 minute time limit on Facebook + Instagram but quickly realized that I kept plowing through that time limit and pressing “ignore time limit for 15 more minutes.” But even a 1 hour time limit went by pretty quickly once I gave myself more leniency… It’s not that social media has been toxic for me (as it may have been in the past), but I still feel attached to it. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my moves and grooves on there, but I felt myself caring a bit too much about the whole shebang. I also found myself browsing through mindlessly at night to drown out my stress from my work day, which is not entirely how I want to fill myself up at the end of the day. Now, I do love that I got to meet my new Kettlebell Gains family through Instagram, and I am very grateful for them. But at this time, I think I will focus my attention on other avenues through which I can connect with loved ones and truly restore myself when I need a break from stress.
  2. More time in silence. I’ve talked about silence on here many a time, and for good reason. Silence is something so uncomfortable but necessary in order to actually be with God and also to confront the messes that are inside of me. For only then can those messes be cleaned up and transformed into new, productive, and fruitful things as I move into the next day. No built up junk in the heart, please!
  3. Morning prayer. UGHHH getting up 20 minutes earlier to pray is so good but also so hard for a night owl like me. But I gotta do it. Praying is my life source.
  4. Awareness of emotions + eating, especially at night. Ooooof stress eating is real. Even if my emotional eating is not severe by any means, I still catch myself snacking quite mindlessly and then being aware that I am stressed and chomping on extra crackers because of it… Again, I am grateful that I can be aware of this and stop at a reasonable point, but it’s something to work on. Working on this couples well with the silence piece ^^^

Hopefully this will all make more space for meaningful conversations, learning, blogging, writing letters, and tbh cleaning the floors and ironing my work shirts.

eat.

I made these pumpkin cookies with brown butter frosting last night for an All Saints’ Day celebratory dessert (also #fall), and they were fantastic. Mine turned out not nearly as pretty as Jess’ cookies because I don’t have an ice cream scooper to make them all uniform.

My friend said my unfrosted cookies looked like fried chicken and he is 100% accurate LOL. And then my brown butter frosting just looked like mashed potato schmeared on the fried chicken.

BUT THEY TASTED GREAT.

move.

I get < 10,000 steps per day during the work week because a) there is limited time to go on longer walks because of work; b) it’s cold and dark for most of the time when I can go on walks; c) I choose to not devote my energies just to hit that step count these days. I miss the days when I could easily get 15K+ every day in Boston, but ’tis the season of life. I am uber grateful that I get to be on my feet and moving all day at work though, so that is a blessing.

Otherwise, workouts have been short, sweet (or not), and as efficient as possible. Despite that, I feel stronger than ever, mostly thanks to the kettlebell crew! Up until yesterday, I have been posting my workouts on my Instagram stories (which are now on my highlights!), so you can see what’s been going down on there. I’m also up to 7 consecutive wide grip pull-ups now! Goal is 10 by the end of 2020.

groove.

It was so heartwarming to see all the ways my neighbors made halloween happen for the kiddos in a COVID-safe way. Many people put out individual baggies of candy on a table outside, but I also saw one neighbor stick candies on their garage door with masking tape so people could just pull the candy right off.

Creativity amidst the challenges.

For my PT clinic’s team costume, we dressed up as the Cobra Kai cast. I wore a blonde wig because I somehow chose to be Johnny from the show/movie… People loved it but also couldn’t recognize me. It’s the most I’ve ever committed to a Halloween costume.

Thanks for stopping by, as always! Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead. Happy All Souls’ Day, and happy nOvEmBeR whaaaaat!?

So tell me:

Do you like the phrase, “Discipline equals freedom”? Why or why not?

Have you made any pumpkin things yet this fall?

Did your neighborhood participate in any halloween festivities?