Sunday, June 29, 2014

Scrapbooking runner style

This weekend I was out promoting my 5K at another 5K event, and a discussion arose as to why runners wear shirts from races they have done. 
 "Why is that necessary to wear to say 'look what I've done!' ?"
 Mind you, this comment came from a non runner.
  However, it made me pause and think just a little bit.
 My initial answer was " I don't wear mine as to say 'Look at me! I did this race! I wear them because they are comfortable.' " 
Whereas it was answered with a chuckle and a "sure" kind of statement. Then the conversation moved on to something else along running lines. Quite honestly, the shirts given out at events are my favorites to wear when I'm out on training runs because most shirts now given out at races are designed for running. 
  That being said, I pretty much forgot about the conversation until this morning, when  I went to get a shirt out to wear, and the stuffed drawer spilled out several of its contents. What fell out: admittedly, mostly race shirts. I laughed out loud and became determined to clean out said drawer.
   However, when I went to clean it out, I found myself reminiscing over each shirt.
 "Oh, I can't throw that out! That was my KY race. Nope, not that one either, I did that one with Dawn. Oh man, I'd forgotten about this one- I threw up after it, but it was a worthwhile race, proving to myself new milestones. Nope, this shirt does not fit me anymore, I am 10 lbs heavier, but maybe I will fit into it again one day... That was my best time ever!" and so the dialogue went. 
  Many of my shirts I do still wear, but let's be honest, one can only wear so many shirts in a weeks time. Even if going for a run every day and then wearing one for work. But, I can't exactly go around wearing my medals, now can I? Now, that would be strange. A shirt....that is a wearable item. 
 My race bibs go into a little book I keep to log all the races I do. I love every now and then looking back on those and remembering. But each shirt comes with memories embedded in it. Memories, generally, of accomplishment of some sort.  Each shirt is kind of like a trophy in a way. 
  A Best Time (PR for runner speak)
     A victory of knowing I could do something I once thought impossible
         Tears, sweat, vomit (sorry to be descriptive, but sometimes it is necessary for explanation) and all: the shirt was my trophy for a race that I will never earn a trophy for in the top of my age group, but I do feel at the top of my own game. So it becomes a trophy to me in that way.
   Some races I have finished after a painful time: mom's death, life transitions, struggles at home- and finishing a race at times help me know I will be ok. It's a journey roughly traveled, but paved in part with running, and a shirt at the end of it . 
        A run with a friend. 
   A marker in time for personal growth

Somehow, quite honestly, every race means something in its own way. So, I will keep the over stuffed drawer of shirts. 
       It's my version of scrapbooking, runner style. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pure Joy from the Heart

Like a child, I sat on the swing in the backyard and had a contest with my kids of who could reach the branches first with their feet. I  tossed my head back and laughed, as the tickle of the up and down touched me in my tummy.  Pure joy. From head to toe. It was a moment to capture in time- both with my kids and even a moment for me to pause and realize yet again the new found lessons I am discovering about joy.
    When true joy is found, words cannot express it and pictures can't quite paint it and songs can't sing it. But it flows and it shows because it is felt from within. True joy starts in the heart. True joy shines beautifully and  shows in the laughter, in the smiles, and it even shows in the strength when times are hard.


 When feeling the best and beautiful things in the heart, that pushes outwards onto others. 
  This is a season I am discovering all new lessons, new aspects of life, new things about myself, new dreams. To capture it in words is extremely difficult some days because it runs very deep. 
    I have been in my new career with the marathon office for a month now. When I set out to begin this post, I started with wanting to give a simple update on my job, my new home, my new "family".  I set out to write about it because people ask me about it all the time. My answer is continually the same: I  LOVE IT. I don't know how else to word it because the journey on which it is taking me is one hard to form into words. I believe that is because the journey of moving into this job is about such a plethora of unique aspects of life that the journey is creating a new stirring in my heart- one which cannot be seen or touched or, in this case, described.  
 However, I have been asked enough times by enough people that I am trying to formulate it a little better here.
   I really do love my new job. I am taking in so much information about the Marathon that I feel like a sponge which can't get enough water in it. I am soaking it up. I am learning all new aspects of the racing industry. I have to ask a lot of questions, but I have the feeling the next few months will be that way as I work through this event as part of the staff (and not a runner of the event this time) for this first year. I am not lying when I say that processing registrations and talking to runners who call is very fun for me. I truly enjoy that. And it's a great way to learn about how the event takes place. 
   I very much enjoy my co workers. They are fantastic- supportive, fun, encouraging, helpful, knowledgable, and hard working. A great mixture of having a fun time and getting the job done. They have treated me as family from the beginning. I have never felt like an outsider or even really like the "newbie".  
  I wrote a blog a couple months back called "It's like going home...." , that going to the marathon office was like going home. And the transition of moving from the coffee world to this job has been truly like going home. I truly love what I get to do now. And there is no dollar that can be placed on that.
  God always has amazing plans, when we let Him work. They form in His timing, not ours. And as I walk this journey of a transition between careers, His plan unfolds all the time to me. I see Him in all new ways, which causes me to see myself in all new ways. Discovering new depths I did not know existed. Seeing Him work His ways in all new avenues. I am excited to feel and experience these things. Few people know, but I actually tried to get in with the Marathon office a few years ago, when I was ready to leave the Starbucks world. At that point, there wasn't a place for me, and so I moved into my previous barista position. All part of His plan . I am confident that my years there taught me many lessons, brought new people my way, and brought about a preparing for this point in life. When that didn't work out 3 years ago, I didn't really believe I'd ever be there, but God has a way of working things out differently, and here I am today. And the timing of it all has been perfect.
   As Helen Keller said, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched.They must be felt within the heart." 
   I am experiencing that truth in this season, which is why I am often at a lack of words. Yes, some of it has to do with my job. But more of it has to do with all that I am learning and growing into about myself as a woman during this time of transition and learning.  Eventually I hope to have more adequate words. 
  The laughter I can feel when I arrive home and play out through swinging with the kids (or jumping on the trampoline in the rain, or sitting quietly with the family on the porch reading...) is part of the true beauty I am finding within. 
 One day at a time.
Our swinging contest...
Pure joy shining through what is beginning to fill the heart....
 (L, Elizabeth, Top, me, bottom, Joseph. ) And by the way...I totally won:) 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Recently, I had to have my credit card ended and a new one sent to me because someone had stolen mine somehow over the internet. When I called my bank to see what was happening, they told me to prove I was Rachael McKinney. They asked a few questions, along with social security numbers and the normal things along those lines in order to establish that it was in fact me.  In other words: Prove to us that you are Rachael McKinney. 

I thought about this as I have been thinking and processing the tough questions of life lately as to who am I?

A social security number identifies me to the government, but doesn’t tell who I am of any worth. Somehow, these questions can be confusing. I’m 31, for pity sake, shouldn’t I understand and know who I am by now? Yet, as life throws curve balls and shifts, that question is challenged in me each time, and each time it is challenged, it seems harder to answer, more confusing to understand. 

Perhaps I overthink it; or perhaps I’ve never truly embraced who I am until now. A recent personality test taken tells me I am a harmonizer....I am a people  pleaser and that is where my energy gets used. This same personality test told me that in the other categories of life, I have very little energy left, so I resort to that harmonizer in me each time. Much validity lies in that statement. I please others before I please myself. Yet this doesn’t always seem to pan out in the best ways for me. 

So, I have begun asking myself really tough questions; questions that I find difficult to answer in ways that challenge all I’ve known my entire adult life. 

I am Rachael McKinney. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a writer. I am a runner. 
    Those are the statements that so often come to my mind when I am asking myself who am I? 
And yet, those are not who I am, they are what I do. There is a difference, I believe. But it becomes so hard to separate and differentiate between what I do and who I am at the core. 

Words speak volumes to me. When I say volumes, I mean that I hang onto words like a monkey hangs on a tree. I remember them for days and months to come. They have the power to tear my heart apart or build my spirits up. I have often let words of others’ define me in ways that God has not. Yet I struggle to not allow those words, be good or bad, define me. And in recent weeks and months, this has become a clear picture of a part of my struggle of who I am at the core. 
So I have begun asking myself Who Am I?  Not in name, not in jobs, but who is Rachael McKinney? Who does God say I am and who does He want me to be? I wish it were as simple as just answering. Yet, for me, being an overthinker much of the time, being one who holds onto words, answering this questions has become complex. 

I have had to sort through the words of others, whether good or bad, and allow the words of what God says to me be what defines me. And then I can take those definitions into life and strive to become what He wants me to be. 

I am His child. A precious daughter of the King. Not to be thrown away or stomped upon or allowed by anyone else to be defined. I am His princess. 

    I am loved. Deeply and truly loved how I so desire to be loved. It’s not based off what I do or what I say, but it is based off simply pure, unadulterated love. 

 I am forgiven. I am covered in His grace. Every day. I mess up. All the time. But I am covered by His grace.  

      I am free. Free to be me in Him. He has made me wonderfully and beautifully, as Psalm 139 tells me. I am free from sin, if I allow Him to work in me. I am free from fear, if I give it to Him. I am free from my past. 

These are the things that matter. And yet, so hard to embrace. 
   But these are who I am at the core. And being these, He has then given me abilities and talents and unique gifts that only I can fulfill because of the fact that I am unique. That’s where my writing comes in, my running happens, my passions unfold . They don’t define who I am, but I am able to take who He has made me to be to fulfill things that only Rachael can fulfill. It is in this, that He has given me the gift of encouragement (ahem...harmonizing??) . I love people. I love to tell them good things. I love to listen to them and help them. But somehow, I often allow myself to love them more than I love myself. This comes back to remembering who I am at the core.  I have to allow God to fill me up every day so that I can pour that out onto others. Then and only then can I be used by Him. 
  Others seem to see the good in me more than I myself see it. This is a process I am working through to grasp. To embrace. And as I embrace it and learn who I am, the smile I so often love to pass to others, grows. It is so genuine and cannot be suppressed by the yucky words or the hard times. The smile grows because it is rooted in the depths of security in who God has made me to be. No matter what happens. 
    I have to come to a place of if everything were stripped away: My family, my job, my blog, my running ability, and everything I do because I love it...if all that were stripped away from me, would Christ be enough for me? That is a deep and terrifying question to answer. But when He does become enough, then my joy is full. My heart can overflow. I can rest in Who I am. I can be who He created me to be. 

The complex question of who am I still resonates in me, and I am still striving to answer it. But as I work through the depths of it, I am discovering that though I have not always made the best decions in life and I have made mistakes and messed up, who I am at the core, I really do enjoy. And when I am being who He made me to be, I am happy. I am full and I can better pour out onto others. But remaining in that on a daily basis.... That is a struggle. One which I am fighting to conquer. 
  He has made me a beautiful woman. I don’t mean beautiful like look in a mirror and I’m gorgeous. I mean, He has made me beautiful on the inside. And as I learn to embrace that, the beauty shines through in my smile, and my laugh and my abilities and the gifts He has given me. 

  One day at a time. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Father-like boss

                              The  father-like- Boss

In 2007, the time arrived where my family reached a place of my needing to go to work after being a stay at home mom for 5 years. Which in essence, had been our whole marriage. For me, the idea of going to work was intimidating. After all, I had no degree and I'd been a stay at home mom and, quite honestly, I really had never worked in the "real world". I pretty much felt like I had no ability to really do anything. In the process of researching where I could go to work (evening/weekend only because of the kids being so young still) a new Starbucks was opening. Someone with whom my husband worked at the time knew the manager of the Starbucks in the area and connected me to the process and the rest became history...
  That manager was not the hiring manager, but she knew the hiring manager for where I was applying, and simply helped me know what was happening with the process. I filled out my application and an interview was set. 
 I nervously went into this interview. I was young, inexperienced, insecure, and quite honestly, scared. I loved coffee, though, and I enjoyed people, so I took those two things with me and waited my turn for an interview. I'd quite literally never been through an interview process before. I was 25.  I sipped my caramel macchiato and watched as the manager interviewed a person ahead of me. 
  My turn came for the interview and I sat in front of the manager. 
   His name was Jim and he put me at ease very quickly. The interview was fairly short and overall easy-going. Different from how I expected. He must have seen something in me that I did not myself recognize, because Jim hired me on the spot. I have not had an interview experience like that since. 
 Jim became a father like figure to me. Training at Starbucks was not easy. The first weeks were pretty  rough and intimidating. But Jim was always encouraging  me. I can remember taking my barista "test" with Jim, and when I messed up, he was not condescending or rude, but helpful and guiding. He blew the steam wand out, showed me  some tricks and we moved on. Needless to say, I passed that barista "exam".  (and continued as a barista, of course, for another 7 years).
 My first day in the brand new store we were opening, I burned my hand so badly, but not understanding the process of how incidents like that go, I kept quiet, wrapped it up and moved on. (Um, hindsight, that was a very bad idea, as the burn was pretty severe on 3 of my fingers. The burn was due to an improper function in the new machine, but I was rookie and had no idea.) Somehow Jim, as any good manager would, came to know about this burn and inquired about it. Not in a condescending manner, but in a kind, caring manner. Then proceeded to teach me the process of what should be done if that were ever to occur again.
   I ran into some conflict with a shift manager there a couple of times. I cannot remember her name or even the circumstances. But what I do remember is that Jim handled that as well. Like a father to me in some ways, Jim really took me under his wing and taught me much and watched out for my well being, without playing "favorite" to me. Jim pushed and encouraged my ability in interacting with customers and even said he knew I could succeed greatly within the store. He put me at ease. 
  In the first weeks of working for Jim, my husband lost his job unexpectedly. In that process, Jim treated me more as as daughter than an employee. He genuinely cared about what was happening with me and my family and what was to come. Little did I know that what would be to come would be a move to Ohio, a move away from Jim's store.  A drastic change for our lives altogether. Being a new Starbucks employee, it was not typical to be able to transfer to another store, but my situation was unique and Jim helped make that transfer happen for me. Jim even gave my family gifts upon our leaving Florida.
  So Jim was my first introduction to bosses in the work world, and I could not have asked for a more kind introduction. Hard working and value driven, he treated me more like a daughter than an employee. He was the first to recognize the potential I held (it just took me up to the years of the Chef to embrace that....) and he was the first to push me towards better goals, even if our time working together was very brief. He offered me tools of success to walk into the working world from the every day life of a stay at home mom. That transition was tough, but Jim helped it come with more ease. He taught me a bit about doing things I once thought myself incapable of. And I attribute much of my success as a barista in 7 years time to the beginning days of that father like manager I once had.....
  Sometimes you never know how or who you might touch, in your job, as a manager or as the lowest on the totem pole. Jim likely had no idea the impact he placed on the future that laid ahead of me, simply by starting with a smile.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Why I write

While it is unnecessary to explain myself about why I write, I have adopted new readers over the course of the last few months, and so I want to retreat back into time to share from the depths of my heart why I write; why this blog came into existence.
   The title of my web address - java jogger- stemmed from pushing two of my loves (and in part, a piece of my identity) into one space- coffee and running. These two worlds have coincidentally also played huge parts of shaping who I am.  The coffee industry helped shape me through experiences and interactions with people. Not to mention, I love a good cup of coffee.  The jogger... well, running has become a big part of my life. To get up and run is to start my day off on the right foot. I love to be outside, pounding pavement, taking in the different atmospheres of the day. But running also became one of the first things I said "I could never do that" and was turned into something I thrive when I do. running became a significant marker for me in teaching me I can be more than I ever imagined. Running helped get me through mom's death, and even helped shape an event to be done in her memory. Running is now even an aspect of my career life. These two words - Java Jogger- have become symbolic for me in more than one way.
   And the title "One day at a time" is also a significant marker of a moment for me. When my mom was in her last months, I spent countless moments worrying if it were my last day with her. So many times I can recall thinking "this is it...." and essentially wasting away the moment because I was so concerned it was the last. One day, as mom was bedridden, and I was next to her side, this concept really hit me. I realized how much of a beautiful moment I was wasting because I was so overwhelmed by thinking about what was about to happen. Instead of embracing THAT day, I was fretting over the day mom would no longer be there. And in that moment, I realized how important enjoying each day, one day at a time, really was. Hence the titles of my blog.
   I have often been asked what I write and why. If you've followed for a while, you understand I really don't have a rhythm to my writing. I cover kind of whatever is in my heart and mind. While my blog started as a place to express the depths of my emotions and grief over losing mom, time has evolved that into being real about struggles i face like depression and anxiety and insecurity. I share my running journey and I share my coffee shop journey. Again, two worlds colliding  .
 I write to understand. When I write, it helps me process whatever life lesson I am experiencing or whatever struggle I am facing. Writing brings some sense of understanding to the moment for me. And perhaps  (as is my hope) my writing will lend someone else a new light into a world they struggle to understand themselves. Perhaps my being real will help someone else be real. I write to understand as much as to be understood. They go hand in hand.  
 At times I have been judged for the openness of my heart in my blog. It unpeels some of my hidden layers at times. But to those I say, Scars tell a story. Everyone has scars, which mean everyone has a story. If you see a person who has a large scar on their body, it is often wondered what happened or why its there. For me, emotional scars tell a story as well. Not all scars are visible, yet they are noticeable in a persons spirit. You may never have guessed I battle depression if I didn't share it here. But that is the beauty of sharing. When I am open about the struggle, I can not only grasp it a little better myself, but others can read and see there can be healing and joy found in the midst of those battles.
 And these are the reasons I write. Because I love it. But also because it brings understanding and reason to events and circumstances. Because being real is beautiful.
 Coffee and Running (Java Jogger). In one sense, my jobs and career. But in another sense, so much more depth and life have come from those two words colliding for my life.
 One day at a time... it doesn't mean I don't/can't plan. It just means I have grasped an understanding of the beauty of that concept.
      And so I will continue to share and to day at at a time.

Reasons to Run

In light of my running adventures, so much could be spoken this morning of reasons I love getting up at 4 am to experience a few miles on the quiet, beaten path.
 Some moments, though, words are no justice for what a picture of beauty can portray.  Only in God's beautifully created world can I experience starting out in the dark of the morning with raindrops tickling my skin, move into the humidity of the morning, hear the bubbling of the river next to me, drink in the beauty of a double rainbow and then end with a gorgeous sunrise blazing around me.
   I love my morning runs and every small wink of sleep I may sacrifice for it is totally worth it on a day such as today.

 Happy Friday. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Chef

In my years as a barista, I worked in 3 different locations. As I thought about my experiences in each place, and have been recalling stories about the day to day life of coffee, I cannot work through those experiences without referring to the different bosses I have had. No one person is the same, and thus, no boss runs a business the same way. Therefore, each experience I had with 4 different bosses warrants some attention. Because they have played a part in shaping me as much as (likely, more so than) the customers. And so I will recall the previous years of bosses....

                                                  The Chef
  My last coffee shop employer was actually a kitchen, not a solo coffee  shop. This was a new experience for me, moving from Starbucks. Thus, my boss was a chef. He knew about coffee, but his specialty, by nature, was cooking. For me, that was intimidating to some degree in the beginning because, if you know me, I am not a cook. I used to joke that there was a reason I was in the coffee shop and not the kitchen. David would be just as likely to join in that banter. Although by the end of my days, I'd made good progress in learning some basic kitchen (and food, in general) knowledge. I could not go into a kitchen and get a job, mind you, but I'd say David helped me learn a lot in that realm of things. 
  David was an Australian with a vibrancy and strong view of life that you just don't find in many others. Upon my first interactions with David, I had to concentrate a little when he talked because of his thick Australian accent. I loved being dismissed at the end of the day with a "Cheers!"  instead of a simple "have a good night."  He knew all kinds of things of which I had no clue about, some of which included fashion, vocabulary, world events and of course, food. He sang silly songs that stuck in your head all day.  And he knew what he wanted to see accomplished in a days work. 

 But David lent me a unique experience in the coffee world. As time passed, he gave me quite a bit of liberty within my realm of the coffee shop. The HearBeat Cafe was the name of our establishment.  One day, between the two of us,(and to be quite honest, I have no idea who started the conversation of this need) we decided we needed new blenders, and from that idea grew a whole new idea of sorts. Somehow, from that grew the inspiration to remodel the HeartBeat Cafe. I was privileged enough to be a part of this new layout and idea. One neat aspect about this was that,  not being in a management position at all, I really did not have to be included in the process. And yet David always made sure I was. He took time to make sure I was included in what was going on, and even consult my ideas on the matter. He made sure, as my boss, that I, as the sole barista, had a part in it all. He gave me much credit where it wasn't really deserved. I was a barista, but the freedom he allowed me to have in what I could do in my job- and even encouraged- pushed me in new ways I didn't discover immediately. 

 Sometimes people would joke about "how do you work for him?" not because he was mean, but more because he would say silly things and at times, people were not sure how to take him on those things. Truth of the matter is, I enjoyed my years under the chef. Sometimes my response to his silly statements would be "I'm not sure what to say" and I would just move on.  But honestly, I learned much about myself in working with him. I've always enjoyed working hard- I don't just say that, I truly enjoy it. But in so doing under his management , I learned to express myself more creatively because I was given the freedom to do so, and that my creative side was not bad. I learned that what was within me, already engrained in who I was(am), were strong qualities that could be built upon to carry me far in who/what I wanted to be. I was pushed by him in some ways in my knowledge of coffee, but even more so in expanding my knowledge of what I already knew and what was within me that could be built upon to use in my job. I also learned much about dealing with conflicting situations  from him. And upon telling David I would be leaving not just as his employee, but the coffee world overall, he was one of my biggest encouragers in the matter, recognizing I was going to enter a new passion, a new world and one which he saw the potential of what I could reach. While he never understood my love of running,  he did not try to convince me to stay, but instead encouraged the dream he could see in my eyes as I shared what my next move would be. 

 The chef was my boss for 3 years, but he also became my friend. I think more than learning about coffee in that position, I learned about life (and food), and my experience within that kitchen is one that will not be forgotten. Unique to the coffee world; unique as part of my story in shaping me to continue moving forward. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Like a Thief in the Night

 Have you ever watched a movie where a thief in the night came and took the home by surprise? Or perhaps you have even experienced that yourself? Being totally caught off guard by one?
   Yesterday,  I compared grief in my life to a thief in the night.
 Grief can often times catch me by surprise, when I am least expecting it. Yesterday was such a moment for me.
 I have an empathetic heart. I feel what others feel. Really and truly. Some moments that is good, other times it can be a challenge. When a person I know loses someone close to them, I feel it, and that grief wraps around me and catches me off guard like a thief in then night. The freshness of what it is to lose a loved one pushes back in. This transpires in a different way each time, but nonetheless, is resurrected. I was struck by a moment like that yesterday when a person I don't even know all that well lost her dad; the waves of remembrance washed over me like the tide coming in.
  The moments of those remembrances were coupled with a task I did later in the day as well. I was cleaning out a space at (mom/and) dad's house, and the grief snuck in on me in an unexpected manner, and took me by surprise. I found myself standing in the middle of the room, holding papers that were lined with mom's handwriting, tears falling freshly. The papers, I know, had not been touched since she'd lost her handwriting skills in the last months. I sifted through them one by one, even though they were not of significant value. The pages simply had names on them, but nonetheless, the penmanship of mom brought about reminders of what I no longer have in the moment- mom's words. Her neat penmanship being rediscovered yesterday in a new fashion was like hearing her laughter surround me, knowing that at the moment of what she was writing, she was most likely also laughing and enjoying herself. I was taken back to a moment in time, which I did not even experience, but by the simple crisp cursive of my mom, I could see the moment.  Among those papers, I also found one of mom's song books. She had a friend with whom she would get together and they would sing scripture. It was mom's way of memorizing God's words. I can remember doing tasks around the house and hearing the two of them sit at the table, going over these songs and discussing what the scripture meant. In finding this book, I paged through it and could hear mom's voice, another beautiful moment that also brought fresh tears. Mom loved to sing, and in her last months had lost that ability, but often times I would sit by her side and sing to her. In the pages of the book, were dates lightly scripted. Mom recorded the days she would "memorize" that scripture. The next book lying under the songbook was a favorite of my mom's. The Teenie Weenies , it is called. That was a book mom would read to us as kids time and again. So much so all the pages are falling out. It happened to be book her mom read to her. The year? 1917. It was my grandmother's book originally. I was wrapped in moments of memories for a short time, sifting through a pile of mom's things, and caught off guard by the surprise of grief. 3 years have passed since mom has gone, and that grief still finds its crevices. It creeps in or sometimes startles me like the thief would, in ways I least expect.
  Grief is like that. A Thief in the night. Comes to steal a moment when it's least expected. I used to hate that, but I have come to accept it. It's part of the process of healing. It is part of the journey of growth. If you have never experienced grief, it is a difficult concept to grasp. It would be like telling one who had their house robbed they could just use insurance to replace the things stolen. But sometimes things... or in the case of grief, a person or memory.... is irreplaceable. Without a value or price tag.
  But just as the tide washes in and out during the day, those moments of grief also wash away and pass. Instead of sitting like a festering pool of water, they move with the cycle of life, and that is how it should be. A moment stolen in time, a reason to pause and have a moment for a tear, and then smile over the remembrance of what mom has left for us to find, without her or us even knowing those things would become a significant pause for a moment in the day. That's the nature of grief- it will catch one by surprise, hold its moment in time and then fade away, never really knowing when it might creep back in. The moment of tears yesterday has turned to a now reason to smile and remember. And for that, I am grateful for uncovering the simple sheets of paper and books yesterday and being taken by surprise, like a thief in the night, and like the waves of the ocean that come and go.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

My dad has taught me much about inner strength and determination. He has set an example my entire life about hard work and strong ethics to a job. Dad holds to positivity and faith in all that he does. He loved my mom with his whole being and always strived to show it to her in ways that some would say are unconventional, but to me, as his child, it was written in every bit of his actions.  He cared for her to the very end and displayed true love to mom to all who saw, but I was privileged enough to witness it firsthand daily.
    My dad tells silly jokes that don't make sense to a lot of others, but leave me laughing for long moments. Dad loves to have fun. He has a heart for people and service. Dad is wise and he is brave.
   He's a farmer to the core.
  He is a man of few words, but lots of wisdom and love.
     When he and I would be together often times with mom, we'd be having a discussion or something of the sorts and my mom would roll her eyes at us and say "Oh, brother, you two!" Because we were so much alike.
  I can always count on my dad. He plays on the floor with the kids, he allows me to talk when I am upset, he supports my goals and dreams and he loves unconditionally. I am thankful for my dad and all he has and still does instill in me.

Dad's sense of humor showing through with mom in their early years

Dad holding me 

One of my favorite photos of my dad. I found this one while sifting through photos of mom a few years ago, and me and my siblings came to love this one of dad the most. Here, he was in their early marriage and he was at a farm auction. we have no idea who caught this on photo, but he ended up being the new owner of the land. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Table Four

Tales from the coffee world continue....

           Table Four

 While in the coffee industry there are not really tables to be served, every now and then there is a rare customer who comes along, who is regular enough to get the title 'Table Four'. 
  In this case,  Table Four is Kal. 

Kal brought table four to life with flare. 
  Kal and Heather were down to the coffee shop every day at the same time, generally 10:30 am. I nearly could plan my watch by their visits.  I also could plan a moment of sheer entertainment with our conversations.
  Somehow, Kal came to be one who could get away with pretending to be part of the cashier staff. Hence, I say, Table Four.
 On days I was extremely busy, Kal would lighten the moment by shouting down the line a little to me, "Rachael, Table Four needs napkins! I'll help them out..." And even though we had no tables, the point was made and the mood lightened by Kal's spirit. And thus, Table Four was born and became our theme. 
   Kal always had an entertaining conversation, in which he would walk in and include me as if I'd been in on the conversation the entire time. 
  "So here's what we're discussing today..." he would say. Then he'd proceed to endeavor into the daily topic. Many days, he was discussing the latest celebrity talk. About those things, I was always clueless, so he'd fill me in. Some days he was referring to some crazy life topic up for debate. 
   Kal did not have a clue as to what he drank, he merely walked up to the counter, told me hot or cold,  and paid and I made it. Heather, his daily "date" for coffee, would so often come along with him and shake her head and laugh and tell him to just order already instead of going on about whatever the daily topic was. Everyone knows Kal, I'd say. 
 We began a program within the space that incorporated veggies to our smoothies. When Kal first saw beets in our smoothie case, he could not get over that...and then I made him try one. Or rather, he broke down and agreed to getting one. He came to call it the "Earth" drink because that's what he said the beets did to it. They tasted like the earth. From that point on, he then would let me know he took care of taking beets off our order; and when they appeared back in the case, he would let me say he made a mistake and the beets should not have been in the case... Kal always had an entertaining comment, no matter what was going on in the day. 
   Like I said , Kal became one who could say to me and Tiffany that he was helping us out as part of our staff.  Usually he did this when we were silly busy and he wanted to help lighten the moment. One day he said , "Table four got upset with me and so I quit. I couldn't handle their attitudes." Again, table four was the theme. Tiffany and I would laugh about this. He'd say he would come back on to help after Table Four would leave . We'd laugh and tell him he was no longer part of our staff.  
 He pushed buttons to make my register beep because he liked the beeping noise; he pretended to do things that would be a help  but was to make us laugh, and he really always had something encouraging to say. When I told him I was leaving, he was extremely excited for my endeavors. 
  Kal became Table Four. That was always the number he chose when pretending to help us out, and thus, I told him he would be table four forever. 
 Not a drink title: A table title. A customer who brought a lot of laughs to the moment, and entertainment to the day. He also brought smiles to all the customers in line who needed that extra boost to get them through the stressful moment of waiting. I always counted on a story or a laugh with Kal. 
  Because that was Table Four to our day- fun and bubbly and always ready with a silly moment. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Continental Shift

I'm no scientist, but I can remember studying in Science class about the continental plates shifting. I cannot explain the nature or the science behind it, but I like to think of it as a puzzle (the pieces of the world) shifting or moving so that they form a bit of a different shape.
  Still all the same pieces are there, it just looks a bit different. And perhaps to our eyes, the difference is minimal, but perhaps to the creatures living in the water or in that section of the world, the shift greatly affects their world.

   That is the term I have found myself using often in the last few weeks.


  My life has taken a great shift.

To find the right words to describe it has been difficult, which is why I have sat on this blog for days. And yet, I've never been one to allow writers block or strong emotions to stop me from pouring out my heart.  I think too much at times, I am told, and this would be an accurate statement. I need to just let it flow a little better. And so ready or not, here it is.
I have been experiencing a great shift in life lately. A new view of myself. A new view of life and who God has made me to be and what I am capable of doing. A shift in my career.
 Ultimately, the job opportunity is becoming so much more than that for me. Finding a position to be going on a path of my dream job has opened up much more inside my heart and mind that I was not prepared to come with the change/shift. The job opportunity within the marathon office shifted one "plate" (to go along with the terms of the continental shift), which in essence shifts another one. Those shifts have created the capabilities inside of me to become more evident, dreams more profound, goals more defined, and desires to grow deeper.
Everyone experiences change in life. Change is the one constant thing, I like to say. We can always count on changes happening in life. I once was so opposed to change I would cringe at the thought of it. I have learned to embrace it because with change comes growth, and with growth comes opportunity. I have been living this the last few weeks.
    I said I have found new capabilities inside of me. Those would be simple things like - finding my way around a totally unfamiliar area without panicking or calling someone. I simply just say I'll do it and I do. It might take a few extra minutes, but the end result for me is rewarding. I have always called myself computer stupid in a lot of ways. I am discovering that while I am not a genius, I can/am overcoming that fear because it is part of what I do now. And I love it. Why was I always so afraid of that? I have to humble myself and ask a lot of questions, but those are great opportunities to learn. I have discovered that in spite of what I have often said to myself or believed, I am not stupid and I can do so much more than I ever thought. I'm not just making coffee (not to diminish that; just to say that now I am doing something on a larger scale I never thought possible), I am in a career, not a job. There is a difference. I have discovered a new sense of beauty. This is a struggle for me to share and to write, yet it has been part of my journey lately. I have never been one to look in a mirror and see beautiful. In fact, I usually see the opposite. I tend to belittle myself and be on the side of insecure. I am far from being secure in this area, but I have made significant shifts in this area of life lately. Perhaps a piece of it comes from the ability to wear clothes I want to wear for the first time in 7 years. But honestly, beauty does not come from clothing at all. Beauty comes from within. And I believe that for the first time in many years, I am looking at myself the way God does and always has. He sees my heart, not my past or what my job is or who my friends are- He sees into me for who I am. He wants me to recognize those same traits and he is always trying to show that to me, but for so long I have allowed people and past and circumstances to dictate how I see my own self. So many of us do that, to be honest. It's a human fault and one hard to overcome in a healthy manner. Yet, this shift is one which God is bringing that out to the surface from inside. The true beauty bubbling over, having nothing to do with what I am wearing or how my hair looks or what size I am. I have struggled with this for years, but this shift has created a new lens through which I can now look. A new lens of beauty. A true sense of worth; which is invaluable once found in the right manner. This makes me happier than I have been in a long time because I am not living on a scale of what I think I should be or what another says I should be or what society portrays should be. I am living the me God created me to be. That is true beauty, by His grace alone.

  With the shift comes dreams more profound in my heart and goals more defined. Dreams of developing my own 5K into an event much larger than its current status, which in essence, will grow mom's scholarship, which will in essence, help more students down the road. It's my dream taking a new shape. Dreams of teaching my kids that they, too, can do anything they put their mind to. I never thought I would be a working mom. But once I accepted that idea, I began to view it differently, and here I am now doing a career I never thought would be mine. What started as a hobby/passion/dream is becoming a reality. I long for my kids to see if they reach for the stars, it is possible. Working full time as a mom doesn't have to have a bad connotation to it. There are positives to be found and lessons to be taught. This shift has shown that in a new light.  Goals of growing within my position and learning and doing and being able to accomplish more within the career field. Goals I did not know existed. I went from a position that had no room for movement into a place I not only love, but have room to grow. This gives me goals to strive towards. (In case you did not know, I am a goal setter!)

  This continental shift of life has brought about exciting opportunities. And for those wondering, I absolutely love my job and all that I am learning and get the opportunity to do each day in the race industry. I am no fool; I know there will be bumps and days I do not always embrace these newfound truths and goals and excitement. But that is okay. Those days will come and I will embrace them as much as I am embracing these exciting ones.  This is a new journey for me, with a path that may be unknown, but holds more potential than I have seen in a long while in myself and for my family.  One day at a time, of course.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

30 Day Journey

Yesterday closed my 30 day running streak.  The 30 days have been quite a ride for me, to be quite honest.  I had no idea when I began this challenge to myself back in May what life would bring for me. Along with learning new things about my determination, I have begun to embrace some greater truths about myself. I have begun a whole new journey in life with a new career.
   The 30 day challenge has definitely been a challenge.

Jimmy Buffet said "Go fast enough to get there, slow enough to see...."  Some runs through these days, I can relate with that quote word for word. Fast enough to do the challenge, slow enough to do some evaluating and growing too...

I have run in the rain, the heat, the humidity, a drop in temperatures, the dark, and the sunlight.I have run mostly alone, but also at times with a couple friends or, thankfully once again, my dog.

 I have fought myself some days and forced my feet out the door, simply because I was determined to make this 30 days happen. Now that 30 days is over, I don't even know if I will stop because I am really enjoying it.

 Along the way, came a dramatic life change for me. While I have often lately been referring to these changes, I write what I am learning in life, and change often brings about some of those strong lessons.
   Any time a major shift in life happens, I miss my mom in a larger way. This time is no different. As I have gone through this and done this challenge and learned things and shifted, I have wished mom were here to talk to about all the changes. Always my biggest supporter,  I always find it hard when she isn't around to share with (or go clothes shopping with!).
   But I know she would be thrilled with the  change.  However, in the emotion of missing mom the last couple of weeks, it is not lost on me that once again, I see a purpose behind my loss of mom. I have struggled to put this into words, but the point has been significant for me. There is always a purpose in everything. We don't always see it, want it or feel it, but God can use anything and everything. Had I not lost mom, I would never have started the 5K in her memory. Had that not begun, I never would have taken a Race Director course. Had I not done that, I would likely not have my now current dream job in the running industry. So you see, mom is still with me.  And while I do not say I am thankful to have walked the road of all the yuckiness of grief, I can see how it has led to this greater purpose for myself. There is always purpose behind pain; can't always see it or understand it, but looking back now, I can find how God has taken that and used it to led me to where I am now.  And mom would like that.  The thought of that has been with me strongly the last week.

  I shared in my last coffee blog that I took from there significant lessons of my worth. During this 30 day challenge, I believe that is a new truth that has taken on growth I did not expect. Those lessons did not come about magically because I was completing a challenge of running every day. However, in my times out running, the truths took on new molds for me.During my runs is my time to think and  process. And I began taking words said to me or things I have done or all the doors God has been opening and viewing them through new lenses. Now I am walking forward, carrying these new realizations with a new sense of determination. Not necessarily because I just did something I have never before done, but  because these things that have been inside me all along, these God given qualities which God has been trying to show me for years exist within me,  have surfaced in new ways.

  The 30 day challenge of running every day was hard to do some days, and yet I loved facing the challenge and completing it. I am most definitely a morning runner. I have finally purchased a pair of running (prescription) sunglasses, which make a large difference to one who needs them to see!
  I have been asked if I will continue the runs and the answer is yes. I will likely put some rest days in there now though, so no more streak per say. I have not chosen a new running challenge just yet.  I will say being engrossed in the running industry now is firing me up for another race, so we will see what is to come.

 Life is all about one day at a time. We never know what will come our way. I had no idea when the challenge began the beautiful ending it would subscribe to become. One day at a time, we can't always see what is ahead (but we don't need to either, God is taking care of those days) but in looking back, we sure can see how far we have come. One day at a time.