Friday, December 2, 2016

What I Learned in November

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year..... as the song goes. 

 I cannot believe that it is the last month of 2016 already. Doesn't it seem some days like time stands still and it takes forever to get through a day? But then, in hindsight, time is flying. Here we are on the heels of closing out another year. 
 I always get super reflective this time of year (ok, if you know me, I'm always being reflective, but this time of year brings it about especially).  I think it's important to reflect on life so we can see how we have grown and figure out how to keep moving forward, keep growing. 
 Here is what I learned in November:

 1. Blogging every day is not practical for my life!
    I gave it a good shot, and I knew it would be tough, but some days, there just isn't time to blog. Between school, work, family, chores, exercise and social things.... some days there is little room left for blogging ;) But, all things considered, I enjoyed writing as much as I could about what I was thankful for.... there were so many things left unsaid. 

 2. The Hot Chocolate Run will be a new November tradition for me and Danielle
   We had so much fun hanging out and enjoying some good girl time and getting exercise in in the process. Danielle wasn't thanking me so much while we waited in the cold, but once we got going, it was worth it. We had a great time. And, honestly, I've never tasted better hot chocolate in my life! (could it have been the cold? or that I was hungry? perhaps, but it doesn't matter. I will choose to believe it's the best ever!) 

 3. Black Friday shopping is not hateful.
   First of all, why does the phone auto correct Black Friday into capital letters? It doesn't seem it should be a holiday? Second of all, my daughter asked if we could go out. I have never really wanted to brave the craziness, but, bless her heart, she has made some of her own money this year and wanted to buy for us, but wanted good deals as she only had so much money. So, I agreed. 
 But you know what? Me and the kids had a lot of fun together. We made memories, we laughed, and we did find some good deals. So, all in all, it was worth it. 

 4. Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
   I highly recommend this movie. I won't give it a review or a recap. I just say.....go see it. It's incredibly inspirational and moving. 

  This website is a compilation of topics covering mental illnesses and/or disabilities. Many of the articles posted there are written by various people fighting the battles. It's real. If you know someone who battles anything like anxiety, depression, autism, or a variety of other things, you can find real life information here describing it, perhaps lending you some good insight into their struggle which they have a hard time putting into words for others to understand. 

 6. Websites
  So, listen, technology is not always something I am superbly wonderful at navigating. However, I really try to learn it. For my English course this semester, I had to put together a web portfolio. If you want to look at it, you can find it here. It's not amazing, but it gave me a good place to start learning some new technological ways. On it you will find some boring things we were required to post, but you will also find a few other writings I got to choose to put on there. Let Go is a very personal piece I wrote, but I think it's time it is shared. 

   And while this didn't take place in November,  I am now wrapping up semester 2. I have made it through a difficult fall of learning, but I have grown in my writing and I have a brand new appreciation for Art. What did you learn in November? 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 27

Today I am thankful for Colombia.

 My time there was life-changing and I cannot say enough about that experience. It's one of those moments in time where I could literally freeze it and just savor it. What a precious 10 days that was for me. I will share just a few tidbits here today, but if you missed out on any of those thoughts, you can read them starting here, which is actually the post I wrote just before leaving. There are many following it to describe the experiences.

  I am so thankful for that time. It was healing and transforming for me. It was there I rediscovered myself for the first time in years. It was there I found joy and life and laughter amongst a tiny village called Brisas del Mar.
 In Brisas, I met people who forever changed my perspective of the world. In Brisas, I saw poverty, but amidst the poverty, saw people who love deeply.
 In Brisas, I met a teenage girl who wants to be a translator, just like I want to be.
  In Brisas, Paola and Tia and Yuleida became my family.
 In Brisas, I found peace. I saw God with fresh eyes. I dived deeper into walking with Him and found healing in a broken heart.
   I learned about a new culture and brought home a fresh perspective about life, although admittedly, it's hard to apply all that I learned.
    In Brisas, Paula became my best friend. And James and Eric became my brothers. New family.
In Brisas, I was taken to another country, a third world experience, and a village full of people who have seen absolute devastation but have risen through the adversity.
      My time in Colombia forever changed me. And today, and every day, I am grateful for that.
 Choosing just a few photos is so hard, but here are a few to give a glimpse. (I'm trying to pick ones perhaps I haven't used in previous blogs....)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 23

Today I am thankful for warm fires and coffee.

 I never have to worry about going cold in this weather because I have a roof over my head. I have a home in which I can keep warm. And it's cozy. I need to work on not complaining about the house not being clean or how much laundry I do because honestly, there are people who don't have those things. I have a home to clean, clothes to wear, heat in my home, air in the summer, electricity for convenience and water to shower.
 When I was in Colombia, those things all came to have such a greater value to me because I saw so many without. Returning back to the day to day, there are moments that those memories from Colombia can be far removed in that sense. (The people are forever close to my heart, but sometimes I lose a bit of the gratitude I found when there.)

    And also, to throw into the mix of all of that, I am thankful for coffee. I joke that I might turn in to a cup of coffee one day because of how much I consume. Once I was a barista, and I guess you can take the barista out of the coffee shop, but you can never take the coffee shop out of the barista. Coffee is to me a place to gather with my friends, a long sip of waking up, a moment of escaping into quiet, finding warmth on a cold day, and stress relief. I love coffee and I am thankful for it.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 20

Today I am thankful for opportunity.

 I am blessed. I have been given the chance to do a lot of really neat things. Of course I have a bucket list a mile long still, but this year alone I have had the chance to travel across the world, start attending school again, run some races, go zip lining, and try paddle boarding.

 I have been given the chance to experience some great opportunities this year. I have met some incredible people, including but not limited to, a US Olympian Marathoner.

 The bucket list continues, but I am grateful for what I have been able to do this year. I also am completely grateful for my health to be able to do all of these activities. I am not the thinnest, fastest, strongest person out there. But, I am healthy and thankful for that. Not everyone can say that.

 Health and Opportunity. I have much for which to be grateful.

 PS- My race this morning, the Hot Chocolate 15K was a lot of fun. The weather was so cold that my phone shut itself off and my hands were sort of numb (somehow I lost a glove today?? ), but it was so worth it and Danielle declared we are going to make it be our annual event. She finished far ahead of me, but maybe next year I'll catch up to her (probably not, but hey... I can dream/goal set!).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 19

From 78 degrees to 37 degrees in less than 24 hours! Welcome to Ohio, my friends!
 Tomorrow's race will be one to bundle up for, that is for sure! But I think it will be so fun. Today when we went and picked up our race bibs, I got to watch Danielle experience her first expo as a participant. (Of course she had experienced the AFM expo, but as staff, that is a whole different story.)  It was so fun to see her excitement and to take in the experience with her. Sometimes I forget what it's like to be a "new" runner.
 Although she says she may never do another race again. Tomorrow she endeavors into the longest race she has done yet. I can't wait! But I suppose that will be more for tomorrow's blog.

 Today I will share that I am thankful for the friendships I have been given. If you haven't figured it out, I am a people person. Relationships are very important to me and I don't take them lightly. I care about the people I get to know, maybe even to a fault. Some friends come and go. Still others are friends from across the miles but we still can pick up where we left off at any time.
 I have made some new friends this year that have become substantial to my life in a way I never expected. People who have become so close, I feel I have known them my whole life. Friendships I prayed for and was handed in such an unexpected way. I have said goodbye to some others, and not always so easily. Letting go of people is always hard for me.
 I can't begin to name the people here who have made a difference in my life because the list would tell too many stories for one blog. The point is, sometimes I struggle with wanting deeper friendships- the truth is, not everyone can handle my vulnerability and deep seeded thinking. But that is ok. I have come to appreciate all levels of friendships . And those who are the deep thinkers and those who open up their hearts to me.... you know who you are and I am more grateful for you than you can ever know. Friendships help shape me as much as I hope I contribute something to others' lives.

 Tell the friends in your life you are thankful for them! It can easily be taken for granted but there may be a day that that person isn't around as much. I am blessed to have some very special people in my life.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

November 17

The first blog I wrote this month said I was thankful for my childhood.
 Tonight I am thankful for my siblings.

I have heard so many stories of brothers and sisters who fight or don't get along or have some sort of division. I am thankful to say that is not my experience.
 I have amazing siblings.
We are so different in some ways, but we have a commonality that only the 4 of us can understand. We laugh at jokes before they are told because we just understand what the other is about to say.
 We share memories no one can "get" because they are unique to our family.
We can make fun of each other and know it's in total love.
    My brothers tease me like no one else in this world, but they protect me just as fiercely. Only they can get away with all of that.
     My sister and I communicate in the exact same way, so no words are needed many times. We laugh like silly and we cry together, too.
  The 4 of us share secrets and I trust them all more than anyone. It is a bond so rare, and one I do not take for granted.
      We learned hard work ethics and family values. We have endeavored into our own families but come back together in a way I have seen so very few do.
    We do not always agree about every part of life, but we agree to disagree.
 We have grieved my mom's death together.
 My sister is 42, my brother 39, I am 34 and my younger brother is 32. 3 of us in Ohio, one in Utah. One former marine, one employed civilian on an Air Force base, one manager at Sears, one pastor's wife. All four of us are fighters. All four of us love deeply. They boys are not afraid of conflict, the girls are people-pleasers. We learned about working hard from dad and living life to the fullest from mom.
   My sister is there for me any time I call, text or need a shoulder. She understands me in a way unlike any girlfriend every will. I laugh with her like I did with mom and when I need to cry, there is no fear of tears shed. We are different in some ways, yes. But we are so similar at times we can read each other's minds. She used to read me bed time stories growing up and let me tag along with her anytime. She is my big sister.
    My older brother is one of the most intelligent people I know. He never strived to have the best grades, he mostly wanted the knowledge. And he can tell you history about nearly anything or talk theology for hours. He's there for me when I need him.  I trust him and he listens when I need an ear. He supports me in all that I do. He will always have a big brother protector mentality I think, even if it goes unspoken. We can talk for hours or we can have coffee and say nothing.
   My younger brother and I are very close. Growing up, we fought horribly. Neither of us tolerated the other very well, but today I think we understand each other better than ever. We are 2 years apart and so he will always be my little brother, even though he is taller, stronger and smarter than I am. He is one of my biggest supporters when it comes to all my goals and ideas. He's innovative and creative and always trying new ideas himself. We are both fighters for what we believe in.  He served in the marines. He taught me about running. And while we have our share of differences, we are closer than ever.

 I have amazing siblings and I am so thankful for all 3 of them.
Stephen (older brother), Becky, dad, Me, Tim (younger brother)
March 2015. Dad's Surprise 70th Birthday. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14

Today I am thankful for all of God's creations.
 I love nature so much. I enjoy taking in the variety of creatures that exist and the colors of the trees and the scenic places that hold beaches or mountains or farmland.
 I enjoy the starry sky and the moonlit night. I soak in the sun and dance in the rain. I find snow a bit mystical (for the fist one anyway) and the seasons of the year are beautiful.

 This morning, as I stepped out for my run, one of the first frosts of the season kissed the green grass. The cold nipped at my ear lobes and tickled my thumbs. Fall is nearing its end and soon we will be in a new season. The giant moon- because it was so close to the earth- held such beauty it felt like I could touch it. And the stars danced across the dark morning.
   The doe raised her head and looked at me, as if I were the intruder in the territory. The pile of leaves lingered on the sidewalk for me to jump through like a child (sorry, neighbor... I could not resist kicking my feet through it with a smile!)
  The nature came to life in front of me and brought a smile to my lips.

 I am so very thankful for God's creation and beauty. Once I lived in Florida and was often asked if I missed the seasons. At that time, the answer was "no." I had the beaches and the palm trees and the warmth around me all year.
 However, if you were to ask me that today, if I would miss them if I did not live here, I'd probably say "absolutely." Because in the seasons, I am reminded of how life changes, how fortunate I am, how amazing God's creation is and how, like the seasons change, He is constantly working on me.

 Running is a part of me.  And in running, I see life through a new lens. Today it happened to come in the beauty of a dark, cool, crisp morning.  I wish I had a photo of this morning's moon and stars.... but it would not do it justice.