Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I don’t have anything against it, but there are other holidays I enjoy more. As a kid, Halloween was fun because we ate lots of candy and hot dogs.
Every year as a child, I both volunteered and played at our church “Harvest Festival.” It was essentially a carnival-style event that my family and church put on for the community. It was free and fun, with tons of candy, music, games, and this old-school church/carnival game called a “Cake Walk” (here’s Betty Crocker’s explanation––I loved this game!). Afterwards, my sisters and I sat on the floor, poured out our candy, and sorted the sugary goodness by brand. Then we traded and bartered for our favorites (usually, Dad got a Kit Kat or two).
In college, I went trick-or-treating for the first time. At age 19, away from my family and typical Harvest Festival tradition, I experienced my first “Halloween Party,” where a group of friends gathered for chili at someone’s house and hung out for a few hours in costumes.
After college, I plugged into a church in the area and volunteered at their annual Harvest Carnival. Last year, I went to a special Zumba class on Halloween, hosted by my favorite instructor-turned-friend. Tonight, I accepted my cousin’s invitation to spend time at her friend’s house, assist with handing out candy (which I didn’t end up doing because I got sucked into conversation inside :-)), and eat chili (a tradition I don’t mind repeating :-)).
It’s interesting how special events have the power to remind us of times past. Even something that’s not my favorite holiday brings nostalgia as I consider experiences tied to the date.
Tonight felt especially sentimental as I considered the many changes that have occurred in the past 365 days. On this day last year …
- I had just finished my first month living completely on my own (more on that here). It had taken a few weeks, but I finally was beginning to feel comfortable in my new home (or at least, I wasn’t questioning my decision every minute of every day).
- I wondered if I would ever become a Zumba instructor. It had been two months since I got certified and a couple weeks since my second rejection at a gym audition (there were a few more to go).
- I had just completed two unprecedented projects at work. Our company hosted a two-day summit for the industry, and I assisted with guest and client correspondence, created the entire welcome packet, and managed visitor transportation. Directly after that, I stepped into a 40-hour assignment to create a slideshow honoring our founder’s wife on her 90th birthday. Both were extremely valuable experiences that stretched me in new ways, and left me exhausted and fulfilled. They whetted my appetite for future event and creative charges, which I’ve been privileged to experiment further with throughout the year.
Fast forward to today …
- I am about to sleep for the last time in my converted garage guest house, alone. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new journey––perhaps a place I can finally plant roots and truly call home (more on that here).
- I teach two Zumba classes per week. One is at my “dream gym.” It’s the location I’ve called my home gym for three years. It’s the place that saw me through six months of life-transforming personal training. It’s the group fitness room where I met one of my best friends, some of my newest pals, and parts of myself that needed to be awakened. (I even taught three classes for a while, but life got busy and I dropped a midweek class––here’s the story on that).
- A few months ago, I had the profound honor of creating the 90th birthday slideshow for my company’s founder––a man I admire deeply and whose leadership and work I am grateful for. The kinds of projects that last fall’s responsibilities whet my appetite for are things I get to work on every day now. I got to play a second-in-command role for a client’s event this month (just one day from the year-anniversary of last year’s company event, which is cool :-)), and take a more active role in marketing our company’s presence at an annual industry convention. Experience and passion are fusing and it feels like a sweet spot, for which I’m so thankful!
Last year at this time, I also didn’t know anything about lifting weights or much about nutrition. One month from now will be my year anniversary of signing up for personal training. I’ve reflected a lot on the journey of fitness––we’re all on a different path to health and mine has definitely been rocky.
Today I ate a lot more sugar than I planned to (please, if you ever see me with Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, snatch the bucket and run away––I beg you!). I also took a nap after work instead of going to the gym.
Four months ago, I would have beat myself up all week for the double-whammy of bad decisions. But today, though I’m a few pounds above my ideal weight, I’m embracing the idea of grace. And I’m putting into practice MyFitnessPal’s advice to “make the journey as enjoyable as the destination.” Today, that meant listening to my body’s need for sleep and making a plan for healthier eating tomorrow.
For me, fitness went from being about health to being about skinny, to being about proving my worth, to being about maintaining my worth. It got funky, and it happened over time. Correcting the negative and self-deprecating thought pattern is an ongoing process, too. So tonight, I’m sharing a “Transformation Tuesday” photo here––almost one year to the date, the photo on the left is Halloween last year, and the photo on the right is three days before Halloween this year.
Instead of berating myself for the cookies I ate today, I’m choosing to be thankful for the positive changes God allowed me to make in my life over the last 365 days. New friends, new hobbies, new body and new home … and there’s so much more to come!
I chose the header photo with the balloons and railroad because it symbolizes celebration and journey. It seems you often can’t have one without the other––and if you try, life loses its sweetness.
So, what are you thankful for today? Where were you last year––literally, figuratively, emotionally––and where do you hope to be on this day next year? Drop a comment below!