the map is not the territory, part 2. your life is your work.

We started the new year right…the first Slagle family vacation ever. This pic was taken on our first night in Kona. We bought a takeout pizza, drove down a crazy windy road, and enjoyed the sunset. While we won’t be going back to Hawaii to start 2015, I know 2015 holds many magical moments for us.

In keeping with the “map is not the territory” theme of 2014, this last year I entered into a different land – the land of reconfiguring my livelihood and  lifestyle to reflect my values and re-established priorities. I suppose that’s what losing almost everything and everyone you hold dear can do to you, right? Yay for revelations in the form of outrageous self-sabotaging behavior. It really does help put things in perspective.

right livelihood/right life.

My newfound (let’s not say mantra…) around this portion of my Top 5 is really “your LIFE is your WORK.” Not the other way around? What? You see, I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic. Why? Work always made sense to me. There was a start and end, I got rewarded both financially and emotionally from it, and I could measure my progress by it. That all started to unravel, however, as the year began.

In January, we started the year the way I had been intending to for a long time: on an island far, far away. Tim cashed in a large chunk of frequent flier miles he’d been collecting after all that work travel – hundreds of thousands of miles – and we headed for the Big Island. I found a yurt on one side of the island for us to stay in for half of the trip and a small organic farm on the other side for the other half.  It was a snorkeling, luau, volcano-filled extravaganza for 9 days. Talk about heavenly.

The woman who hosted us in Kona had this amazing little farm, and we talked at length about how she’d left the city (Denver, if I recall) to pursue her dream to be an organic farmer. After the jealousy wore off, I left feeling inspired. I didn’t want an organic farm in Hawaii, but there were things I wanted that I knew would infuse joy and purpose into my life.

Then I returned to work and went back to the grind. Days turned into weeks. Then months. I wasn’t happy.

During spring break I had a minor meltdown. It led me to deciding that I needed to work where my heart was: small, intimate educational settings devoted to real learning. I was tired of the mill of the large comprehensive high school. I was having exactly the same feeling I had before I started at a small charter school years ago. No matter how many contacts I had per day, I would only connect with 10% of the population. Or even less. It felt like it wasn’t enough.

I started applying for jobs that were more aligned with my own educational philosophy. I also wanted to have work where I could be more connected with my own children. Like the cobbler’s shoes always being worn, I sometimes feel like the educator’s kids can get the least attention. Well, that was what happened in my particular case. In all my years as an educator, I had never gone any of my kids’ field trips and only been to a handful of daytime events. I wanted that to change, too. I knew that I couldn’t be at every event, but having a more flexible schedule was an important thing.

I kept a pretty extensive list of “ideals” and I was fortunate to get my first interview sometime in late spring. Guess what? I totally bombed it. Like “oh my god who are you and what did you do with the confident person that usually inhabits this body?” It was so bad one of my boss’s bosses came over personally to console me…and to give me some honest feedback.  It wasn’t pretty.

But it was necessary. And it woke me up. To be honest, I didn’t really want that job, I wasn’t really the right “fit”, and as a result I hadn’t really prepared for the interview.  I had just wanted out of what I was in, and had tried to force it. As I started reflecting on the whole process, none of it had felt truly right. But I had applied, people thought I was qualified. I liked the idea of it, but never got past envisioning myself in this position.

(This should have been a giant red flag but I was too busy being “ambitious”.)

second chances.

When the opportunity to interview for another position came up, I really paid attention to my emotions around the whole potential experience. I had to – I couldn’t live through another horrible ordeal. But this time it felt way different. And, as a result (shocker!)…I did my homework this time. I used the feedback I’d gotten from the interview, met with people who were professionals and could help me prepare for this potential position. I even bought a new suit that said, “I’m the boss.” Ya know what? It worked.

Of course, there is no fairy tale ending. We all know that the work really starts when you’re hired, and that’s where I am at now. It’s really challenging. But these are the things I know: it’s flexible, it’s challenging, and I like the people. Oh, and I have time for those people I live with. I’ve even gone on a field trip already. Now, that’s Life.



At the beginning of the session, Rowan was falling all over the ice. Here he is, after an hour…and I got to be a part of it. Life is good.





the map is not the territory, or thank you 2014.

It’s been a whole month. Wow. Where has the time gone (thank you, Thanksgiving, Christmas, work and family)?!!

2 photos, almost 100 days apart. The first pic is from my first week of working out, the last pic was many months later. What’s not really “visible”: ab muscles, arm muscles, and those shorts were practically falling off. I got rid of them. Oh, and I had two goals: bikini by 40 and fit into those pants. Done, and done.

The map is not the territory became my mantra mid-2014 after a series of situations that, while on the surface seemed straightforward, turned out to be quite different and clearly not textbook as expected. I had to rely on my internal GPS quite a bit for things, which doesn’t mean I figured it out myself. Quite the opposite, actually.

2014 turned out to be the year I said yes to support.  LOTS of it – whether from the universe, my friends or my family. So much so that I have made a Top 5 list out of it.  I’ll start with my Number 1. 


Anybody who has seen my Facebook feed has probably rolled their eyes at my gym checkins. The quest for health and wellness kicked in around March, when I realized that I was turning 40 and felt, frankly, like crap. My clothes sort of fit, I sort of ate healthy. Everything was “sort of”.

I would justify the “sort of” with “I’m busy” or “I eat plenty of vegetables.” That’s enough? Right? I’m only a few pounds from where I want to be…

I even declared (on Facebook too!) my 100 Days of Health.

Fat chance. I lasted a week. I am more a fan of under promising and over delivering. Clearly I failed in this department.

This sent me into a self hatred spiral that involved taking a walk, eating terribly then shaming myself. Repeat.  Then, just as I was having my most despairing thoughts about my body (which DID include lying in bed at night and grabbing my saddlebags and whimpering like a baby), I had an epiphany. I COULD CHANGE THIS. REALLY.

I had no idea how. I mean, I knew “how” but I had never really pushed myself in this manner and failed at finding the connection between regular diet and exercise.

The next week, on cue, my lovely friend Katy started posting her gym checkins. I felt drawn to them like a moth to a flame. On her recommendation, I visited Results Gym on a Saturday morning for a 6 Week Challenge orientation. Matt Weaver, one of the owners, shared his story of transformation and how he came to start Results. I gotta say, I am a sucker for stories. And his story was powerful – weighing more than 400 pounds, not wanting to die, wanting to share his successes to help change lives. I was hooked.

And I knew I needed help. Why? Because I’m lazy and need accountability. Why fight it? 

For 6 weeks, I dragged myself to the gym at least 5 times per week. I drank green tea. I ate brown rice, lots of veggies, and lean proteins. I drank gallons of protein drinks. The only time I cheated involved some half and half in my coffee.

I wasn’t used to being so committed to my body, not since being pregnant and I gave up caffeine and sushi.

It was weird. It was hard. And it required a lot more support than I ever thought I would need.

In short, it took a village. My husband picked up kids from school so I could go to the gym, bought me health food that violated his own sense of personal taste, and cheered me on when my motivation flagged. My kids, especially Rowan, commented regularly how great I was and how proud he was of me. My co-workers complimented me regularly, and tolerated me heating fish in the company microwave. (Until they didn’t.  I switched to chicken.)

At the gym, the trainers and my partners in change (the other members) gave me props and empathized with my pain. The trainers were motivating. The people at the gym were real people, from all walks of life but with the same desire: to change their lives. And it went beyond that. I had an online support group to commiserate and share NSVs (non scale victories) with. I even found that scheduling my workouts – a requirement at my gym – helped me really focus on my week and how I would even fit it all in. It turns out that 5 hours/week is a small percentage of your week. Really.

That was almost 9 months ago, 15 pounds, several inches, and a whole size ago. That’s only on the outside.

What’s changed on the inside can only articulated by a resounding “I did this!”  and the understanding that I really can change my body and my health. I also finally freed myself of the stories that I feel kept me stagnant all this time. You see, some of my earliest memories, the ones that filled me with a feeling of love, involved food. My grandmother was a large woman who loved to fill me with sweets and fatty foods. One of my fondest memories, and one of only a few from that time, is going to the A&W on the beach in Pacifica for chili dogs and root beer floats every week.

I will not bore you with more story, but here is the long and short of it: after she died, my grandfather remarried and my new “grandmother” put a lock on the fridge. She managed my meals, made me exercise regularly, and put me down when I asked for cake or cookies. I was thinner, but also felt unloved and unwanted. I didn’t realize until I did this challenge how much I connected food with love and acceptance. When I started feeling better about myself from the exercise and eating healthfully, those associations began to dissolve.

It just took 6 weeks of replacing happy hours with gym visits and treats with tilapia. And a whole lotta support. 21 days to change a habit, 42 days to change a lifestyle. Or at least reveal one.

considerations for taking on the “territory”, or maybe a few questions to ask yourself.

(E)NVIRONMENT: what environment works best for you? where do you envision yourself being at your best? as far as exercise goes (for example), are you a class person? outdoor activities? do you enjoy solitude while you work out?

(N)AVIGATION: who or what do you need to help you navigate this new situation? are you autodidactic or do you prefer having a coach or mentor?

(G)OAL: what would you like to be able to do or have? how would you know if you had it?  In my case, I “just” wanted to feel comfortable in a 2-piece and get into these nice pants I could wear before the children were born. I kept them both handy throughout the process to remind myself of what I was working towards.

(A)BILITY: where are you at? honestly? we all have to start somewhere, and this is no time to compare yourself with others. (I say this so cavalierly. It took me months not to overdo it just because there were some ladies at the gym who could out-everything me). honest self assessment will make the little victories feel so much sweeter.

(G)AME/CHALLENGE: I discovered that I wanted/needed a challenge to get myself jump started. what do you want or need to keep you motivated? what drives you forward? do you need a friend for accountability? do you need fun?

(E)XPERIENCE: what experiences would you like to have to cement your change? Personally I found the immersion technique ideal. I also took pictures. Seriously. I need to see what was happening. It worked.

(D)IVERGENCE: what feels like “you”? we’re only truly satisfied when something feels aligned with your values, your schedule, your situation. I discovered that this particular gym matched my values (transformation), my schedule, and also my tendency towards boredom with mundane routine. I sought out a situation where I could have different activities and different types of coaches.

I believe in you. I believe in us.