It’s 10:20 on a Monday morning and the kids have just gone off to school. 2 hour delay means a more relaxed (and far later) morning than usual. The trees are gorgeous all coated in fast-melting ice.

Much going through my head this morning. My friend Walker posted a thoughtful blog about labels that echoes much of what I’m wrestling with (and wrote about here.) Despite any posturing on my end, I still struggle with what I want to define myself as – and how to be proud and confident in that definition. It’s so much easier when someone else tells me who I am. Sigh.

Our 14-year-old son got up to check out the weather and the roads this morning and then decided he wanted to help us out by scraping ice off the cars. Not just the windshield, but the car itself. You might imagine how that went. We still can’t tell if he used the plastic scraper (bad enough) or a shovel (OMG terrible) on the hood, but there is no denying the fact that there are at least three big scrapes in the red paint.

It’s hard to know exactly what happened. Trying to figure out the right response is also tough.

Compounding the issue is the general feeling that we have failed as parents in some basic way. Our son shows very little respect for possessions. He thinks nothing of “borrowing” tools and not putting them back, only admitting to borrowing them when we go to use them and find them gone. His response to something being broken is “I’ll pay for it” when he has no concept of what that might mean, nor any real way to earn the money to do such a thing. He’s in the throes of the teenager “I know better than you do” life, so he dismisses any notion that he might learn something from us. How do we turn this around? What can we do to teach him the value in respecting himself, others, and their things?

My definition of myself as “Mom” isn’t making me very proud or confident this morning.

The eternal question and how to answer it.

IMG_4084Okay, eternal is a little strong. This isn’t some religious post, or anything really earth-shattering. The question I’m talking about is the one people ask when you first meet them.

What do you do?

How do you answer this question? I mean, I get how easy it is to answer when you have a traditional J.O.B. with a title and some way to easily define what you do. Even a bigwig at a bigwig company can say, “Oh, I’m a bigwig at this company that everyone has heard of” and listen to the sighs of admiration.

What if you’re NOT in a traditional job? What if you have no title? What if you’re a stay-at-home parent, or have a business that you built from the ground up, sharing your specific knowledge about the caps on toothpaste tubes. How do you answer the question then?

Perhaps there are two parts to the answer, or maybe even two intended parts to the question. We all want definitions. We all want the easy understood label. “Oh, that person’s a bigwig. Not in my social circle – bet I’ll never see her again.”

But what, exactly, does that title mean? Do we really have any idea what that person does day in and day out? Unless we’ve been in that position, it’s hard to say. (Even then we’ll have brought our own way of dealing with issues to the table.)

And is the question anything more than a social construct, a way to ask the expected – a more sophisticated version of “how are you?” or “how about the Redskins this last Sunday?” Do people really listen to the answer? Do most people really THINK about the answer they’re giving?

Or is the question more “Who are you?”

I’m on this kick this morning because I came to a realization last night. I’m a little tired of the non-answer that I give, an answer that felt so right when I finally came around to giving myself permission to say out loud – but now it feels false. Hollow. Incomplete.

Questioner: “So, what are you doing with yourself these days?” Nica: “I’m at home. I have a personal chef business, and an exercise motivation business.” Q: laughs N: “I know, right? The perfect deal. I help people exercise and then I feed them, or the other way around.” And the conversation goes elsewhere. Where else can it go but elsewhere?

What do I really do? I inspire badassness. In my kids, in my husband. In anyone for whom I cook and give them a part of their lives back. In anyone I work with to find their fitter and healthier selves. I inspire people to live more confident, capable lives. I give them the tools to stride through the world as if they belong in it.

If this isn’t a conversation starter, I’m not sure what will be.



September 10, 2013

I keep wrestling with definitions. Not like dictionary definitions, though those take part. No, my struggles come with defining myself. Am I mom? wife? writer? coach? cook? woman? person? daughter sister niece aunt friend laundress chauffeur board member volunteer icouldkeepgoingforeveritseems. How can I be all of these and then, sometimes, feel like absolutely none of them?

One recent podcast I heard told me to look at my roles, all of them, and then figure out the top 5-7. The advice was that you can't expect to be an expert at more than 5-7 of these roles at one time, and identify the ones where you want to excel and let the other ones "go." That was freeing to a point, for sure - when I listed out 63 roles I kind of gasped. Then when talking to another friend about it, I realized I'd shortchanged others. I could probably spend a good part of my day trying to write out all the hats I wear. But deciding which 5-7 to focus on, to really work on - those were hard to get to but satisfying to identify. It made me think about what I'd like to let go of, where my energies are better focused.

One of the roles I came up with is more nebulous than it should be, and this is where my dictionary definitions come into play. I want to help people. I want to have an effect on people's lives, the more people the better. I can do this a number of ways, of course, and this helping piece is part of being a mom and a wife (2 of my roles). But I feel like I can effect change more effectively by being a better coach to my customers and to my own team of coaches. 

My team is Team Badass. The name came about almost as a joke, a not-so-subtle dig at my lack of self-confidence and the changes I am busy making in my own body and life. The more I think about it, though, the more I like it. So I went to the dictionary to see just what was there.

"violent." "aggressive." "tough" "uncooperative" "mean" "often vulgar" "ready to get into or cause trouble".

WHAT? Negative attributes, almost all. Yes, there are other definitions that are more positive - "excellent" and "of formidable skill" - but the predominant feeling seems to be more "Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch" crazy than "James Dean collar-flipped up" cool.

So I did what any self-respecting 40-something year old does in 2013 - I posted a question on Facebook. "What does "badass" mean to you?" The responses were enlightening. I got people's names. "Bringing your A game, everyday." "Moms everywhere, every day." "tough, awesome, amazing, or a tattooed biker." "committed, dedicated, going for it BigTime. Inspiring awe." "courage to love unconditionally."

I like these definitions. Those are the definitions of BADASS I mean when I call my team Badass - we are committed, inspiring awe, loving unconditionally, bringing our A game. Every single one of us is a Badass. The tagline is "because helping people feel fit and healthy makes anyone feel like a Badass."

This is my main role, then. Being a BADASS. Who wants to join me?