Sunday, September 25, 2016

Celebrate Progress

Are you a glass half empty or half full person? For me, I am so often trying to help others see theirs half full, I am striving to find the positives for them to see in whatever the situation might be.
 But I admit that for my own self, I probably am more of the half empty gal. I hate admitting that, but honesty is what I do here. And so I'm being honest. I often struggle to see the positives in whatever my scenario might be.
 But- in recognizing that, I can work towards fixing that! And so I start by celebrating progress, even when that progress is slow.

 This year I have been implementing a lot of changes in my life. Those changes have been very healthy and very good for me in moving forward to the next horizon, but that being said, I need to stop and celebrate the progress a little more often.

 I can get tripped up by how long something takes. I can get frustrated because I am not seeing results I want. Or I get discouraged by the fact that some things are moving inches rather than feet at a time. But this week my friend said to me "Celebrate Progress." And I dwelt on that for a little bit.
 I often times miss the little victories because I am dwelling on the long process rather than the bits of progress.
 For example, when I started TRX back in March, I could only hold a plank for 30 seconds. Last month I was able to hold it for 2 minutes! For me, that was HUGE progress, not just little progress. But sometimes I get lost in the fact that I may not be exactly where I want to be. (The monthly plank challenge is to help us know how we are improving. I have come a very long way, even if I sometimes don't feel that way.) I still want to grow stronger, but I can look at what has transpired and celebrate!!

 With my school work, the road is very long. I know that, and if/when I think about it that way, it feels like forever out of sight. But instead of looking at it that way, I am celebrating progress. I am down one semester, a quarter of the way through the second, and moving towards a very worthy goal.

 Losing weight is a long process. But, celebrate the victories.

 Marriage has setbacks, but celebrate the progress.

 Parenting is at times and exhausting journey, but celebrate the progress.

 Training for a race takes 13 weeks (more or less), when the race will only take a few hours (or much less for those who are faster!) But celebrate the progress being made through those 13 weeks.

 You can also look at it as seeing the glass half full.

 So, while this can be a challenge for me at times, life is full of beautiful moments to be celebrated. Why waste it worrying when I can be celebrating? (disclaimer: I recognize that this is far easier said than done, but I am a work in progress- no pun intended- and therefore, that is the perspective I aim to hold.) 

What can you celebrate today??

Monday, September 19, 2016

The 20th Air Force Marathon

When my head is so full of thoughts, the only way I know to really get through them well is to put them down here. I will live in a congested state of mind until I share.
 At this point in time, many emotions over multiple topics are swimming in my mind, but they will unfold in time. Today, I want to share as I do each year about the Air Force Marathon experience. I tried to take a few moments through the days to capture some memories in photos, and I was able to grab a few here and there. What's not in photos is in words, so bear with me as I share.

 Each year's event brings on new lessons learned, new friends made, reunions with old friends, hugs from strangers, and growth, one way or another. This year was no different. I found all of those embedded in the 2 days of the expo, along with the actual race day. This will be a two part blog.

 Each year, I am reminded just how much I love what I do. I am reminded how exhausting race week is, but how worth it in the end. I typically feel elated and on a high of sorts from the joy I get of watching it all unfold, but there is a sense of relief as well. It hits me every single year how we work so hard all year long for ONE day basically. That is challenging at times for me, but again, race week is totally worth it. There is even a sense of sadness for me when it's over because the experience is so good, so fulfilling, that I don't want it to be over so fast. I want to soak it in for a little bit before jumping in to the next one. (Not reality, but writing about it here helps me soak and recap.)

 At the expo, my job is to fix problems. When I tell people this, I typically get wide-eyed responses, like "Good luck!" or "I wouldn't want to be you." My friend Danielle said "Girl, I could not do this like you do."
 I don't say that in an arrogant way; I say it to share.... I get some interesting issues that come across my way. But I love it. I love helping fix what is needed. I love it when I can make a runner's experience better. I enjoy it because it gives me a place to meet so many of the people I talk to on the phone or computer through the whole year. For me, it fits. I do have to give bad news and hard answers to them sometimes, but for the most part, it's an all around good experience. Some highlights from this year in the solution center:

 -I absolutely love the company we work with that helps me help our runners. (Our timing/registration company) Josh Drew and his crew are so easy to be around and so helpful. Josh always has a witty statement to lighten the atmosphere and he leads his team with ease. Their crew does a great job, works hard, never rolls their eyes at my needs (as far as I know, anyway!) and helps me do my job in a way easier fashion. He deserves some props in this blog.  I could not solve problems as easily without their help behind the scenes. I get teased for being wordy (in case you hadn't figured that out that I am!) but it's nice to have this crew in my corner. So much more could be said, but then I would lose my audience.
End Results/Get Me Registered Team
Josh Drew and me

 - I had one lady really needing/wanting something. I will not go into details, but I asked her to give me a few hours to troubleshoot it and see what I could do. When she came back and I was able to help accommodate what she needed, she lit up and literally grabbed me in a bear hug.
 Totally worth it.  Totally why I love what I do.

 Honestly, There are plenty of stories that could be shared. The point is, while it can be exhausting to hear all the needs of the people, it's also quite rewarding. (And occasionally gives me a few good stories to tell later. )

 Reuniting with Runners

 One thing I love about race weekend is seeing return runners. Some of these people have become a part of my support system because I helped them once. Then they begin to ask about me, and in time, a friendship unfolds. I am thankful for the variety of people this event has brought my way. Each person who becomes someone in my corner teaches me about life in a new way, supports my desires and dreams in life- not just in my running. I know I will leave someone out, but I was only able to capture a few of these people (it's not like I had all the free time to wander around taking photos...)

 Chief Walden has been coming back since my first year at the office. One year I helped him with something, which turned into the next year and the next. We don't get tons of opportunities to speak, but he's one of those people who gives me far more recognition than I should have and doesn't take enough for himself. He's constantly helping others, rallying his teammates, and encouraging others around him to grow- be it his students, his team, his wife and children or me. I'm happy to call him friend.

Annelise, me, Chief Walden

 And along with Chief, last year I met this special lady, Annelise. She's a blogger like me and you can find her here. She's pretty awesome. Her story encourages and inspires me. Aunie is full of vibrance and faith. Her smile lights up the room and her hugs are special. I could say a lot about this special lady, but check out her blog. I was happy to see her again this year.

My pilot friends, Eric and Bill. They are better known to each other by their "pilot names" (I am certain there must be a better term for that, but I don't know how else to describe it), but last year we met because they came in as part of the flight crew of our featured aircraft. They chose to come back this year and it was fun to reunite with them.What a fun crew they are to be around. Both pilots will be retiring this year. I am thankful for their service and for their friendship.

Katie. Katie actually lives locally now, but we met last year, as she came in and swept away the 10K win in 2015. We fast became friends. We each lead busy lives, but we make time where we can. Katie is awesome. She helps me be a better runner, better woman, better person. She is in my corner, cheering me on in all of my life endeavors, and I am thankful this event brought us together as friends. Katie is a beast when it comes to her running. Unfortunately, she got super sick race week and though she diligently tried to plug away in the half marathon, her body forced her to stop and led her to the ER. She's ok, but sometimes the body says stop. I admire her tenacity as she said "Training will pay off. My time will come, I am sure of it." And she keeps going, not letting the setback knock her down.

Meeting Someone Famous
 Anyone in the running world probably knows the name "Meb". He is pretty famous in the industry, as he has been to the Olympics 4 times, won NYC marathon and the Boston marathon. This year, we were lucky enough to have him as our speaker. I was pretty busy and didn't actually think I would get to meet him, which left me disappointed. However, in between a task, I happened to catch him for a moment after he finished running the 10K. My friend, Danielle, and I took a moment to thank him for being there and speak with him briefly. He's down to earth and pretty cool . He wrote Run to Overcome a book I totally recommend.

Really the list goes on.... but those are a few of the moments from the weekend. I can't always share everything, and I am still processing some of the weekend. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, where I will share about lessons learned. I really do have a cool job.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What I Learned in August

I cannot even believe today is the last day of August! This month came and went without a breath it seems.
 School started back for the kids (and for me).  Joseph's Cross Country season began. Work vamped up. And my fall training kicked in hard. It's been a pretty crazy few weeks. Here's a recap of what I took in in the month of August.

 1. I need to delete the word "Slow" from my vocabulary.

Who defines slow? As I have been training for my fall race, I came off the heels of a time in my spring race that was 1 minute off a PR for me, so I thought for sure I could get to where I will beat that in the fall. The truth is, it's not going to happen this fall. I have lost some of my speed. But since my spring race, I have started taking classes myself, Elizabeth began high school and has tons of things going on, Joseph is running cross country, I work full time and of course my hubby needs time, too. Oh yes, and we changed our entire way of eating. So, I have decided I need to be OK with where I am this fall. I'm steady. I'm still out there. But I'm not faster. However, nor am I going to use the word slow. It's not a nice word in the running world and I really need to quit using it to describe myself. How about determined? Steady? Fighter? Strong? Those are good words. It's my own standard, no one else's. (I just have a habit of being a competitor).

 2. Joseph inspires me.

 As my son began cross country this fall, he has been inspiring me. As I teach him it's not about his time, but about what he learns and about being the best him he can be, he is inspiring me to live out those words. I love being the spectator of the sport instead of the participant for once. It's kinda strange, but kinda wonderful.  His teammates cheering him on gets me teary eyed. He is inspiring me to be a better me. And our conversations that follow his meets are teaching me lessons as much as I hope they are helping him.

 3. Change is good.

 August brought on a lot of change for our family. We got full on to our new eating plan. Elizabeth shifted to the high school, which is big (especially for this mom, who grew up in a tiny town and was in the same school building her whole life!) I cut my hair way short.... I like it, but I haven't decided yet if I'll keep it this way or not. I got new glasses. We began prayerfully trying a new church. Joseph started CC, which is something neither of the kids have ever done- a sport. My semester began. Life is full, to say the least. But the more and more change happens, the more I learn to embrace it and the lessons that come with it.

4. Wise Decisions

 Making wise decisions sometimes is nail biting for me. I am not a quitter, so when I feel I have to give something up, I wrestle with the idea of not being good enough to be able to do it. However, in my older age, I think I'm growing wiser in this area. When this semester began, I had a math and and an English course. I figured it would be fine. Well, this math class was ridiculous. It fell at the same time of the first week of the kids' school and if you didn't know, this is my crazy season at work. So, I was pretty frustrated and stressed out that I was not understanding the math. I tried everything and I was not connecting. So, I decided I probably needed to drop it. I did not want to, I don't want to go backwards in this forward journey. Long story short: I decided to drop it. And when I did- a weight fell off me. I will pick it up in the winter when it's not so crazy. But here's the even cooler piece of this story: in dropping it, to keep my fin aid, I needed to pick up something else. Well, I have a bunch of electives that have to take place in my major, and so I chose an Art appreciation course, per my advisor's recommendation. Guess what? that class does not start until Sept 19, which is AFTER my craziest day of the year- the Air Force Marathon. That could not have been a better decision!!!! Perfect timing. God oriented. So exciting for me to watch Him work out these details on this journey He is clearly laying out for me.

 As I move into September, I am going to go quiet for a while. My family and my schooling and my job need my attention right now. I am sure that after the race, I will post the happenings, because when my head is full, I find I have to write to sort through it, no matter how much (or how little) time is there. But for the next few weeks, if you think of me, pray for me, as it is going to be busy and very full. And please drop me a note for how I can pray for you. I have taken in the tremendous value of prayer over the last few months, and while I may go quiet here for a bit, I will still be praying for you. So please don't hesitate to message, email, comment or tell me how I can pray for you.

  Goodbye summer.... welcome, fall. A new season. New opportunities.
 One day at a time.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

#The Little Moments

God is good. All the time.
 Even in the midst of days I have severe anxiety. Even in the midst of dark storms.
 Because as we have seen this week with days full of rain and thunderstorms- the sun always shines again.
 I'm not in the midst of dark days, but because I have experienced them, and because anxiety and depression are a regular fight for me I appreciate the good ones so much more than I ever used to. And I recognize them more highly, too.
  It's time (overdue, as always) for #thelittlemoments post. Because these moments need recognized just as much as the hard things need exposed through vulnerability. So, here are a few from the last couple of weeks...

 1. The Library.
 Did you know you could find college text books at the library?? I have always been a fan of reading and going to the library, but I never thought of getting my college books there. Guess what? I saved $85 for my next semester by finding my book for FREE at the library! Yay for public libraries!

 2. Vegetables.
 You guys.... I never thought I would say I am glad for vegetables. But now that we are eating clean, Michael has been making some very creative dishes with vegetables. And I love it. Who knew I liked eggplant?  Who knew you could make zucchini a million different ways? I am sure people have know recipes like this for decades, but for us, it's new and we are loving it.

 3. College Tuition.
 I need to tell a story. This was not a little moment- this was a big moment. And God needs all the credit here. Last semester I had a little bit of grant money left over. So I cashed it and put it in my college funding. Guess what? This semester coming up I was short by how much...??? The exact amount that I had leftover from last semester! Come on! Only God could have arranged that. So I am blessed to be provided for once again. I love when God does that.

 4. Change is good.
  In the moment of needing a change and feeling bold, I decided to cut all my hair off like I never have before. I decided if I hated it, it would grow back. So, I did it.


 I do like it. It doesn't look as good every day as this photo does, because I can't style as well as the salon girl, but I do like it. Change feels good. Stepping out of the comfort zone feels good.

 5. Watching answered prayer
 I could write an entire blog on this right now, but some of it is so detailed and some of it more personal so it's one of those that will remain in my head for a while. But honestly, I am amazed at how God is at work. I once heard a man named Ken Rudolph preach, saying that praying for something (or someone) is like chipping away at a tree with an axe. It is a slow process, but every chip whittles away a little bit more of the tree. Every prayer makes a dent in the request. And some requests take years, others take months, etc. But eventually that tree will fall. The point is, don't give up praying. Sometimes that's easier said than done. But I am watching God answer some amazing things right now.

 -Friends who don't care how long my emails are (ahem, or my blogs..) but read every word and take time to respond to me.
 - Telling stupid jokes with Michael and the kids and laughing until our sides hurt
 - Watching the Olympics as a family
 - Talking running terminology with my son, who is running Cross Country for the first time this fall
 - Shopping with my daughter, who is going in to high school! (Yikes!)
 - Lunch at Skyline Chili with another really cool family. Making new friendships that speak volumes.
 - Time with my friend, Katie. She inspires me. I love her to pieces and she motivates me to keep pursuing my dreams.

 The list goes on (hence I should do #thelittlemoments blog more often!) God is good, my friends. And He is found in the every day little moments. Taking time to reflect on that is meaningful. Yes, hard times exist and always will. But even when those are happening, the good is still in the mix.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ready! Reset! Go!

I have used this photo before, but it remains to be true of a motivational version of what I tell myself often times, and goes along with this blog, so here it is:

 (I never got to a blog after my birthday, so this semi-serves as that). It's a "new year" for me, entering in my 34th year, and I am going to eat cleaner, train harder, grow, learn, and keep overcoming the old me, so I can be a better, healthier me. Spiritually, Physically, Emotionally.

 The title of this blog is Ready! Reset! Go! because I am in the process of resetting my body in some ways. A few months ago, I heard Dr. Mark Cucuzzella speak as our Air Force Marathon medical consultant, and he spent much time focusing on nutrition.
 I enjoyed what he had to say, but I did not think cutting carbs out of my nutrition plan was necessary. I thought my husband, a diabetic, could benefit, but not me. (michael had no interest in giving up his ice cream and changing a diet.) As time has gone along since then, the idea has grown on me.
 I have been reading up on what Phil Maffetone has to say, as he comes as a personal recommendation from Dr. Cucuzzella. My brothers then introduced me to this plan, which not coincidentally, comes from Phil Maffetone. To make a long story short, this is what we have begun following.
 To talk about it on a blog is a little bold, because there is always a fear of failure. But we are two weeks in, as the plan suggests, and we have learned so much about our health as a family and individually. We are truly resetting our bodies.

 I thought I needed tons of carbs as a runner: FALSE.

 I thought I would miss chips and chocolate: FALSE.

 I thought I didn't need to rid myself of carbs, only Michael did: FALSE.

 I thought giving up carbs meant I could never eat them or I would gain it right back: FALSE.

 Nutrition plays just as big of a role in my physical training as a detailed training plan does. And I have to tell you, while it was a challenge in the beginning, I feel better physically than I have felt in years. I don't miss junk food. I don't miss pasta. I don't miss chips. But it also does not mean I will never eat them again. Today is Elizabeth's birthday, and I will eat pie. But the next day I'll go back to being without.
 During the two weeks of starting the new way of eating (It's NOT a diet, it's a lifestyle!) we had no carbs. When we went into a restaurant, those yeast rolls smelled amazing. But we resisted, and I felt good about that. I have discovered the power of determination, when it comes to eating. But I admit, it is so much easier to do with the whole family on board. When my son heard about this, he is the one who asked if we could do it, which is what got Michael on board.
 Now Michael's sugar levels (aka his diabetes numbers) have dropped drastically - to NORMAL! It's been years since he has seen that. And so it has caught on in our family.
This is how we buy eggs now. And yes, we go through all of these in a week. 

 So, it's our new way of life. Nutrition plays a role in physical training. I was a little worried about this, and I think I am a little slower right now ( as if I wasn't already slow!) But for one, I have been a bit lazy in my summer runs and two, my body is learning how to burn fuel on fat now instead of immediate carbs. It's fascinating in many ways.
  Michael kindly built me a box jump (Read here why I got inspired about that).
  I am working on improving my time for TRX instructor's (Steck) 3 minute plank challenge. Sounds easy, right? Nope. It's far from that... but I am determined and making progress.
   I am trying to slice some time off my runs so I can gain a new PR.
Most importantly, I'm trying to become a better, healthier version of me. And yes, it's making a difference emotionally as well.
My workout space, including my new adjustable height box jump platform. 

 Lastly, to go along with this, my friend Sharon gave me a Runner's Devotional that I have been reading. I love how my running often parallels my spiritual journey. And when I read the short pages each morning before my exercise, I love how it takes me to a place of meditating on all of that. Each week focuses on a different passage as well as my physical training.
  Many of these passages I have read multiple times in life, but that's what make scripture active and alive- I can take something away from a passage that's new even though I have read it many times. My favorite right now is this:
 "Train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. " 1 Timothy 4: 7

 I love my physical training. I thrive on it often times. It pushes me and challenges me and when I succeed I know I am capable of anything. However, none of that matters if I don't put God into the equation of my every step and goal.
 Nutrition matters. Physical training matters. But as I enter this new year, the most important thing to me is my spiritual walk. I am being stretched there, but as I am, I draw closer to the One who has the answers. I am training to overcome the old me and continue being a better version of me. Spiritually, emotionally, physically.
 One day at a time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A new Year

I can't help it; I am a reflective soul.
 I pick apart and analyze in order to understand myself better to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically.
 I look back and learn, and I for sure am always setting goals to keep moving forward.
  It's who I am.

 The truth is that I do it year round, but I especially do this during mile marker places.... like birthdays. And today is my birthday.

 I am not writing that so people will say "Happy Birthday!" I am sharing that simply because it has caused me to pause and reflect.

 To be grateful.

 To have more open eyes and a better listening soul.

 To see God more deeply.

 I have spent some time looking back over the last year and standing in awe at how much God has done in my life, as well as evaluating the more painful moments and how those have also propelled me into a better woman.

  And of course I have also put some thought into what goals I have for my upcoming 34th year of life. Not everyone wants to listen to me talk about these things, so my blog is a great place to think it out, share it, use it to shape my thoughts. Today, I share some of the highlights and lessons learned from the last year of my life.

 - Let Go. In the last year, that has become a powerful theme for me. I have always held tightly to people, to words, to experiences, to desires, to hopes, to dreams, even to fears. And over the last year, God has really been teaching me to let go. It's been severely painful at times, but amazingly beautiful as well. I have let go of friendships, hardships, hurts, fears and even some dreams. But in letting go, I have found revived paths and new friends. I have seen prayers answered in unexpected ways and I have also learned to let go of some desires, too. I am still being molded by letting go. I still don't always do it superbly well. But it continues to teach me.

- Friendships. In the last year, I learned to let go of some friendships, which was/is a struggle for me. In the process of some friendships shifting, as I took time to reflect the last couple of days, I can see how God replaced those with even more beautiful people. People come and go. Some are for seasons, some are for life. I am thankful for some of the new people who have entered my life this year: Paula, James, Michael, Eric, Paola, Tia, Aaron, Meghan, Tammy, Sharon, Cheri.

- I started back to my dream of obtaining my college degree for Spanish, so I can become a translator! I thought that had died, but God certainly revived it and has made the path clear for it. Being in school again is a challenge, but it's well worth it. It's teaching me great lessons in and of itself, and I can't wait to see what the next year will hold with classes and growth.

- Running and fitness took on a new level. You would not know by looking at me- if anything, I have put on a little more thickness (aka... weight) but it's been a beautiful year for me. I got to run several really cool races and I discovered TRX, which has grown into something I really love. I am stronger than I was a year ago, even if it does not show in my body, I feel it. My passion for fitness has grown and is providing new avenues of ministry and friendships. I ran a race in the worst conditions ever-sleet, snow, hail and rain and finished strong. I ran on an island in Michigan (who knew Michigan had an island just outside Detroit??). I added up to having run in 5 states now. A small chunk out of my goal of 50, but progress towards the goal nonetheless.

- New places: I got to visit Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Pennsylvania this year. I ran a race in 3 of those places. I ate some incredible food and certainly found some cool coffee shops. I document all of this through photos, which is a fun way to remember experiences.

- Colombia. I could write and write about those experiences, and you can find many of them in my archives in February/March. Colombia allowed me the opportunity to taste, see, feel, and hear God in a whole new light. I found healing from hurts and hope for the future. I rediscovered myself a little and learned new things about myself. When I was at my birthday this time last year, I had ideas about Colombia, but it was not in the full force works yet. I had absolutely no idea just how much God was going to use that trip in my life to propel me forward on a whole new journey of a path He originally had for me. Obedience is beautiful.

-Prayer took on a whole new life and meaning for me.

- My kids are growing into teenagers, which brings on new parenting moments But I love the conversations and moments we have.

-Michael and I have weathered some storms and chased some rainbows. Growth is painful at times, but beautiful. He has become the number one salesman for his company, while I am the quiet cheerleader of those endeavors. Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.

- The battle of depression became more of a struggle, but at the same time, has given me a new platform to see God's strength when I have none. People do not often understand it and talking about it makes many uncomfortable. But it is part of my story... part of His story... and I want to be used in spite of the battle. Every day I choose to wake up and fight it. God is in the midst of all of those moments. They hurt and I don't like them, but He is the light and the healing.

- This year I got to Paddle Board for the first time and Zip line for the first time. I also did TRX for the first time, and I am sure some other things I can't quite remember. It's FUN to do new experiences!

 Year 33 of life is now in my history book. I had some amazing experiences. I can't wait to see what year 34 will hold in store for me. Tomorrow I will share some goals for the next year.

 I close by sharing some fun highlights from today's birthday:
  - Michael bought me a birthday card, as usual. But when I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised to find he'd bought me a Spanish birthday card! So sweet. I loved it. He had no idea what it said, but he knew I would like it.
 - Birthday work lunch. Laughs and chatter. Good times.
 - The surprise gifts I got in the mail from my long distance friends.
 - An incredibly special card from my older brother.
 - A special gift from a special friend who knows my journey very well. A bracelet that says "She believed she could, so she did." Beautiful. Even more so because of how it captures my journey. Accompanied with a Snoopy birthday card... it's special when a friend remembers that Snoopy is sentimental to me.
 - Sweet special conversations with my kids. Surprise family dinner. Molten lava cake.

 I am a sucker for birthdays. My mom instilled that in me, I think. Since all of my siblings and I were born in July, mom always made a big deal out of each of ours. I think I carry that on and have a special feeling for birthdays. I will never make a big deal out of my own to others, but I cannot end this day without reflecting on how special those few made it be for me.

  Today was one of my furiously happy days!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Little Moments

It's time for a blog post about the little moments.
 You know what I'm talking about: all the little things in life that often get disregarded or go unnoticed that actually add up to a heart of gratitude when I allow them to.
 So, today I share some of the little moments from the last couple of weeks....

 1. Time with my brothers. It was really great to have my younger brother in town and spend some time with my brothers. They tease me and love me and push the envelope of my thinking. They are so intelligent that they inspire me to grow every time I am with either one of them.

 2. Evening runs with Joseph. I am usually pretty beat by the end of the day, but as he is training for Cross Country in the fall, I am happy to give a half hour of my time to help him train. And as we cool down with a walk, we always end up having great chat time.

 3. My friend, Paula. Paula and I went to Colombia together and God has blessed me by having her in my life. This weekend, she came up and we went zip lining. Zip lining has been on my bucket list and I was able to finally go.  We had great talk time and made some new memories. I love discussing faith and friendship and family with her.

 4. Surprise gifts! It makes me happy when something comes to me as a total surprise. Today I got a super gift in the mail from my friend, Sharon. I met Sharon through the marathon and that was another cool friendship with which God has blessed me. We are miles apart, but never far from each other's thoughts or prayers. Today I got a gift from her that thrills me! It's a Runner's Devotional. If you read my blogs, you know running often parallels spiritual lessons God is teaching me, so I am excited to dive into this book and see how God will use it. Books make me happy :) Devotionals make me happy. So... I was double happy to get this surprise in the mail.

 5. Speaking of prayer, it may seem like a little moment, but it was important to me when someone recently asked how they could pray for me. Read about it here if you want. That simple question spoke volumes to me that day and has remained with me strongly since. Grateful for new friends and more grateful for prayer.

 6. Blank journals. I got this handmade gift that excites me... and it came with gel pens! Call me a nerd if you wish, but those little things make me smile. The purpose of the blank book is to fill it with things that make me happy, and I look forward to seeing what that content will become. I've already put a few little items in to it, like a few photos and a letter from Colombia I just got from a precious teenager over there.

 7. My nephew's laugh. It was contagious. He was pretty clingy to my brother and didn't always want much to do with me, but when he laughed, the whole room lit up.

 8. Warm sunny days and walks at lunch.

 9. Thunderstorms. I could listen to that sound for hours.

 10. My YMCA people. I have had a membership there for many years....who knew what I was missing out on all that time? Doesn't matter... they are kinda stuck with me now. It's like a little family of sorts.

 11. Watching silly teenage girl shows with my daughter. I admit, I get into the storylines. Plus, it provides some great and interesting conversations with her.