Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Holidays are here!

My eyes are heavy this morning, and the coffee is warm in my hands and soothing as I sip it down.
  There is no snowfall today, but the wind is whipping outside and there's a bite to its bitter gusts.
 I feel cozy, wrapped in my blanket with a quiet home and my Christmas tree next to me, all lit up.

 Tis the season, for sure. Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love the food. I love the family. I love the football. I enjoy that it's a day where people truly take time to pause and be grateful. It is, quite often, the holiday in retail that gets skipped. People like to jump from Halloween to Christmas, and the beautiful meaning behind one day tucked away in November often times becomes lost.  For me, Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday.
 this year is the first year we have ever decorated for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving (mostly because I am so adamant that we do not trump my favorite fall holiday with the next one.) However, due to a few reasons, we had to put up the tree a bit early this year. And while, for me, I am still in Thanksgiving mode, I admit, I am enjoying the beauty of my lit up tree and the fresh smell of pine that greets me as I walk into the room.
 Holidays are full of a plethora of emotions.  Memories surround from years past, as much as memories being made for future days of remembering. Tears are sometimes shed over the ache of missing a loved one. Laughter can be found in the squeals of children's joy or perhaps around the game table after the big meal.
 This is my 4th holiday season without my mom. The ache of missing her is still strong in a way difficult to describe in words. And yet, this year is the first year I feel fully immersed in the holidays. I have been like a kid again this year with the decorating. I have told stories of what Christmas was like for me growing up. I have done a lot of remembering and smiling. I made stockings for the office. The joy of the season has found new corners in my heart.
 As we decorated our tree this past weekend, and pulled the ornaments out of the box, I smiled. This year, decorating was not a time of sadness, but a time of joy. Some of the ornaments are hand made by the kids, and some of those ornaments were made by the crafty hands of my mom. I giggled a bit as I pulled all of my Snoopy ornaments out to hang up. Few people know that Snoopy is my favorite cartoon character, much due my childhood years. Mom was really the only one who gave me Snoopy items, but Snoopy still brings me a smile, and likely always will. I still love to "collect" a Snoopy ornament every year. As the kids and I hung those on the tree, they listened to me tell childhood stories of where the ornaments came from and why I had so many of them.
 It feels really good to enjoy the holiday season to its fullest again. In light of the holiday season, I'll do a post once a week sharing a holiday memory/tradition. I'd love to hear about yours as well.
 Seeing as how this week is Thanksgiving, I share a Thanksgiving memory.
 My mom was often found every morning with her Bible open, her Bible's pages worn and underlined from years of her studying. One year, mom took time to every day write out a verse of Thanksgiving and share with us over the breakfast table. I love that she did that. Those memories are her voice still speaking to me, reminding me i can still do that today.
 In our home now, one of our Thanksgiving traditions is watching the Macy Day parade. The stereo gets turned on, coffee is made, and all the cooking (that I have to do) is done the night before. Sitting and watching the parade (uninterrupted in my pajamas with my coffee) is one of our favorite Thanksgiving day activities.
  Stay tuned for more fun traditions and recipes and memories. And please share yours with me! I want to hear.
 Now it's time to leave the coziness of my blanket, couch, coffee and tree and don the winter running clothes and brave the wind for a quick run.....

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Little Moments

Friday. Freezing Cold Friday. But we can certainly still find little moments for which to be grateful.
  Especially with Thanksgiving approaching.
So, this week, my little moments were good moments:

 - A gorgeous snowfall
  - A warm blanket
   - 2 healthy children
- A solid income - God's provisions for me daily
 - A campfire
   - A kind card, unexpected, lit up my day
- Hugs
  - My own health. I don't have back problems or knee problems or any kind of ongoing problems that prevent me from being active. I am extremely grateful for that.
   - Belly Laughs with my coworkers
- An upbeat, fantastic running playlist
   - Hot showers
     - Women willing to be there for me when I am so missing my mom
 - Hot Chocolate with my dad

 As Thanksgiving approaches, what better time than to find gratitude in all the little moments? The moments that often can go unnoticed. Things which, at times, I totally take for granted.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A cup of coffee and permission to be real

This morning feels like one of those days where I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee.
  While I am not a big-time writer as many of my friends are, and perhaps one day I aspire to be in some fashion, I wish I had a way for each of you to know my story, and even more so, for me to know yours.
 I wish that we could sit and talk over coffee. Coffee and connecting- two of my very favorite activities to pass time, both of which I could do for hours.
  I used to be the barista behind the counter, watching all the customers come in and talk over coffee. I watched some shed tears. Others laughed hysterically. Some came and sat and held hands and sipped their lattes. And some brought books and had no need for words, just each other's presence.
 Now I have become the customer who orders a cup of coffee and sits and talks. Having a cup of coffee with my best friend is my first choice of "something to do" in those rare moments of "extra" time. Now, I get to be the one sipping my coffee, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes just sitting with a book.

Today, I invite you to grab your coffee and pretend we are sitting together chatting.

  What is it you need to hear on a hard day? 

We all speak different languages.
  Some of us need a hug on a hard day.

     Some of us need to hear we are awesome.
          Some of us crave the approval of a supervisor or a spouse desperately.

 Others need a "snap out of it" kind of conversation, or  as one friend said it, "Quit that stinkin' thinking'"

  We are all made uniquely and what I need on a hard day is likely different from what you need. And that's okay.   What I have come to believe is that what we need most is permission to be real.
 Permission to be who we are.
 But so often, we want to put others into our own box. If we have a hard day and need a hug, we tend to want to give others a hug on a hard day, but they might need space. If we need to talk when we have a hard day, we tend to try to push others to talk, but they might want us just to sit quietly with them. If we feel a need to cry on a hard day, another person might have a desperate need to get out and laugh. We are all made uniquely, and therefore, need to be able to told it's okay to express that.

 It's  a proven fact that men are fixer -upers. If you tell them a problem, their solution is to try to find a way to fix it.  But women...women respond even differently.
 How many women have you interacted with who, when you tell them your problem, you find out later they go and whisper it to someone else?  Or some women want to try to relate so they come up with a story that is to try to say "I know exactly how you feel" only their story has nothing to do with what you're going through?
  I've been there, and then my tendency becomes to shrink away from sharing at all.

 I have come to believe that what we need most on a hard day is permission to be real, however that is expressed. And if I need that, then how much more so do others need that, too?
   I also believe that in the christian world, many women try to pretend it's all good, because  that is the behavior engrained in their minds. I was once there...
 But there is  significant power in sharing and in being real. I think we struggle to do this because that permission to be real gets lost at times.  We are supposed to have it all together, we've been told.
 Most often, my best blogs come out of my hardest days. Why? Because when I sit down and write, when I allow myself to get real, those are the moments in time God stops and uses. Why? Because we are all real people, with real problems, who need to understand others' have those real days too.
   I battle anxiety. I fight depression. I have marriage struggles  you might be surprised about. I wrestle with a middle school age daughter trying to find herself in this crazy world. I struggle with thoughts of insecurity about my image, my body. I am real. But God uses real...if we allow Him to.
  And when I allow that "real me" to be expressed, God takes it and uses it. And as He uses that,  He begins to change it little by little. The anxiety and depression become a gift, a way to relate to others (or others to relate to me) in new ways, new conversations, new friendships.  Marriage struggles become God's miracles. Parenting problems become a way for me to connect to older moms and take notes on what I can do to encourage younger moms. And those nasty insecurities about my self image? That struggle that nearly every person faces in some fashion? Sharing and getting real on those days helps me remember that it's not about size or what others say I should look like. Those moments have the potential to remind myself- and others around me- that beauty comes from within. And as that smile returns, the beauty shines through.

 Permission to be real.

 What do I need most on a hard day?
 I could tell you I need a hug or a kind word, and that would be true. I also could tell you I need a cup of coffee!! But mostly, I need permission to be real.

 What do you need most on a hard day?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Swimming is my Frenemy

Running is my passion and my friend in life.
  Swimming, I decided yesterday, is my frenemy.
This is a blog post about my journey in learning to swim.

What, you ask, exactly is frenemy?
"Frenemy" (less commonly spelled "frienemy") is a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that can refer to someone or something who really is a friend but also a rival. 

Swimming has the potential to be my friend in life, but right now it is also my rival. The thing that mocks me at moments and says "you will never get this!"  Yesterday, I literally looked at the lifeguard and said " I sure wish I'd learned to this at her age, " nodding to the 5 year old in the lane next to me, also learning to swim. 
 I am no longer embarrassed at this, as I once was when I began this journey only a week ago. (Sheesh, it feels like a lifetime already!) Now, I laugh about it, but proudly share that, yes, I am learning to swim. I am conquering a fear I have always had. Many people walk away from their fears. I am facing mine. Finally. 
  I spent my first week in the pool learning how to properly kick. And then I learned how to do the arm movements properly. And then came the dreaded task of putting my face in the water and breathing. In all my years of "swimming", I plug my nose, and then bring my head above the water. Keeping my face in the water has never been an option for me, mostly because of my fear. 
 When I was 5, I nearly drowned. I am not making that up, it happened. And I believe that moment contributed to this lifetime fear of my face in the water. 
Well, it's about time I conquer that!
    So, my goal yesterday was to do the breathing. (By the way, I never thought swimming was going to be complicated. Michael Phelps makes it looks so easy!) I began by kneeling in the shallow end and pushing my face into the water and breathing out through my nose. While there was a bit of benefit to that, for me, it was too easy just to come up. So I knew I needed to try to add this with my movements. So I pushed through the fear and dove in and began.
  My first attempt at this, I stopped before I'd even made half a lap. "I can't do this..." I said. But then I stopped. "Can't" left my vocabulary a long time ago, and I'm not about to let it return on this adventure. 
  When i first started running, I remember going out with my brother (a marine drill instructor, mind you) and feeling like I was going to die. "I can't do this, Tim!" I'd say. And he would look at his watch and say "Yes, you can. Keep going. Almost one mile."  When he and I finished that run, he laughed- "Rachael, you just did a mile and a half..." He tricked me, but i will forever be grateful for him doing that. I was pushed and conquered. That moment in time taught me much about overcoming. 
 Now, the pushing and conquering is different, but nonetheless, I have to remind myself of that beginning running journey. I did not run a race on my first try. For pity sake, I am not going to be swimming laps my first try either. I have this determined mind set , and when I don't reach it right away, I tend to get frustrated. But yesterday, in a moment of nearly giving up, I put my face back in the water and kept going....until I made it one lap. And while I was exhausted, I was satisfied.
  My breathing has a very long way to go. I kept my face in the water, but as far as coming up for short breaths, I am still working on that. I took longer breaths, but at least I put my face back in. That was one big step further than last week.
 Like anything, it will come with time and practice. Nothing good ever comes easy. Successful moments come from time, determination and hard work. 
  I laugh because in doing just one lap, I am severely out of breath. I said to my friend, Kristin, "I can freakin' run half marathons, and this puts me out of breath??" She looks at me, smiles, and says "Welcome to swimming" and heads off for her next lap. 
  When I started running, I never imagined how it would lead to such beautiful events for me, including but not limited to, my new career. I couldn't even run a mile. Now I've done 10 or so half marathons, one marathon and many 5Ks.  
 Right now, swimming is my frenemy. I love that I am conquering it, but it remains my mocking rivalry as well. I cannot imagine doing a mile of it, but that is my end goal. I have no intentions of it becoming a passion, but I will conquer this fear. One lap at a time....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A good sweat, A good cleanse

"Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach."

-George Sheehan

Every day, I receive an inspirational running quote in my inbox. Some days, they resonate a bit deeper with my story. Other days, they are silly and fun. And some days, they push the competitive gene in me when I may have the inclination to sleep in a little longer or run a bit slower.
 So, I really enjoy these running quotes. Perhaps one day I'll have my own collection of running quotes from all my conversations over the years. (yes, watch out if we are talking running, I may end up quoting you!)  In the meantime, I am inclined to write about the above quote.

This morning, with the cold snap having arrived, walking out the door was a challenge. I donned my winter running clothes for the first real time. (There have been a few days here and there that have been on the colder side, but this morning the thermometer was in the 20s!. Most definitely the coldest yet).  I know it's going to be a challenging run when, the moment I begin, I am already saying 'I can't wait for that hot shower!' . But.... I am in training. And the cold won't stop me. In fact, although it's hard to start out on that day, I usually find much joy in those cold runs, burning lungs and all.

But I really liked the quote that sweat cleanses from the inside, from places a shower cannot ever reach. That is a quote which resonates with my story. I am asked all the time why I run. I heard recently of the story of a runner who had damage to her leg . Her leg was so badly damaged that surgery wasn't fixing it. So she decided to have it amputated  so she can get a prosthetic and run again.
 My son was the one sort of recounting this story to me, and he thought it was crazy. He asked me if I would do that. And I answered "Yes, I believe I would." He wanted to know why. And I said because running means so much to me. Running helps me . And I believe I would want to do it to prove to myself that I would be ok and can overcome anything, just like this young lady is similarly doing. 
 Quite honestly it's hard to say, without really being in that place. But I believe that would be my response.
     The point is, sweat (aka running) cleanses places within me that a shower can never fix. Cleanses and frees me at times. Just a few of the examples of how this is true in my life, is that running helps me combat:
  - Depression
       -Stress at home or in my friendships
          - Weight gain (although that has never been my motivation, it certainly helps that area of life)
And brings new life to :
   - Discovering who I am
     - Liking myself
         -Starting the day right

So, like George Sheehan said, "Sweat (aka running) cleanses from the inside....."

and that is why I run. Why I train. Why I love being involved in the running industry. Why I enjoy doing races. Why I thrive when I talk to runners every day via email or phone in my job.

 Because I know first hand what running can and does do for me.

  My running mantra?
   I am Stronger Than Yesterday.

 (One day at a time...)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Veterans Day.
  A day to remember our military.
     I am forever grateful for the men and women who have sacrificed for our country.
Sacrificed so that I can have freedom.
     Sacrificed so that I can have luxuries so few other countries have.
 Sacrifices I have not had to make, but they made for me.
   Words cannot even say the gratitude I hold for all the men and women who have served and do serve the United States of America.

 I have always held such a high respect for the military. My brother went into the marines in 2002, and watching him graduate was a moment I will never forget, with all the cadets (sorry, Tim, if that is not the correct word) in line, saluting and doing drills.  I am so proud of him and the years he spent serving our country for our freedom. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other places. I saw firsthand the sacrifices he made.
My brother, Tim. 

  I now have the privilege of working on a military base, and being surrounded by that atmosphere of pride. Most would find this completely silly, but when I am driving onto base, and the car in front of me holds an officer , and the guard at the gate salutes the officer, I swell with pride. I love seeing that.  I get to see flags waving proudly all around me every day. The Star Spangled Banner plays every day, and cars stop and soldiers salute.  I have the privilege of meeting  military personnel of all ranks and job duties. And I get to work for the United States Air Force Marathon, where generals and colonels award medals to our participants, and I am part of that experience.

The Marathon Finish line

 This year, I also saw one of my closest friends retire from years of serving in the military, and was able to be a part of her military retirement ceremony. When she asked me to give the prayer for her ceremony, I could not have felt more honored. Not only was I extremely proud to go to her ceremony, but I was humbled to be a part of that. Words cannot express the humility I felt in that experience. Me, who has not done much for our country, was asked to be a part of her ceremony. The National Anthem was sung by a woman acapella and was absolutely beautiful and, for me, a moment of bringing tears of pride and joy. I listened to stories told of her years of service and looked through photos, and watched her stand at attention when awarded with her certificate of retirement. I choked back tears, simply because I felt so much pride for what Kristin has done for our country over the years. What an honor to be a part of her ceremony.

TSgt  Kristin E. Aguiar

 I have often taken for granted the sacrifices made by the military of our country. But now, being more educated in all that they do, I have an eternal gratitude for all they each have done- they have given of their time, their family life, their own life, all so we can live in a country full of freedoms.
  Freedom to vote.
   Freedom of religion.
     Freedom of speech and choices. 

Freedoms we have never known any other way....because of the men and women of our country. The stories I shared here are just a few of the people who have touched my life. To try to include each person I've come to know would fill pages of blogs. 

To all my military friends, THANK YOU. May we learn to say thank you more than just on Veterans Day. You have spent your life sacrificing for mine. And my heart is forever grateful for you. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fear or Faith

 I have started this blog post 3 ways and erased them all, not liking what was being produced. I know what's in my  heart, but finding all the words to share it comes as difficulty lately. I think because of how deep it runs.

I shared in my last blog (the little moments) that I am learning to swim. That's right, learning to swim. I am 32 and do not know proper technique. I can doggy paddle the length of the pool. I can swish my arms and kick my feet. But when it boils down to actually swimming, I cannot do one lap in a pool if my life depended on it.

I've had this wish list I've kept for a couple of years now. My friend, Tiffany, and I started writing down all the crazy things we wanted to do in life. Oddly enough, we both wanted to learn to swim. Well, I decided this year that I am tired of sitting on that list. And there are things I am capable of knocking off without having to spend a ton of money. And so I said that before the year ended, I would learn to swim. Saturday I endeavored into that for the first time.

I got the proper arm and feet motion going. Know what my hindrance is? Putting my face in the water and popping out briefly to breathe. I am scared of it. I get panicky and then can't breathe at all, which you can imagine leads to disaster in the pool. For some reason, keeping my nose under water and breathing out, then taking short breaths, scares me to death. So I bring my head up and just breath above the water. You can imagine how exhausting that is when swimming, to try to constantly hold your head above the water.  It was day 1 of swimming. I can't expect to master it all in one time. I made good progress, and the next time I go this week, I will do better at keeping my face in the water. Determination can carry one a long way. I either want to do it, so I push through the fear, or I don't and I give up. All these years, I have given up. But this time....this time will be different.

 Fear can be crippling. Fear can keep us from wonderful experiences. Fear can raise anxiety and exhaust us. Fear is the opposite of faith.  Think about that. If I'm afraid, I"m not trusting someone or something. I'm afraid to put my face in the water because I fear I won't be able to breathe. I'm not trusting myself in this case, or that many people I've seen do it. Yet they are class 1 swimmers, so why should I think it will be harmful?
  Fear can keep us from saying yes to God. Think about it...Let me use some examples from my life.

-I was afraid to change jobs to the marathon office back in June....fear could have prevented what is now a dream job and one where I am thriving. There were what ifs for me in the scenario, but  If I had listened to that fear and not to God I would be missing out on a lifetime experience.  And those what if thoughts have become "thank you God" moments.

- I was afraid my first race I ever ran. I worried about getting lost on the course, about not finishing, about looking stupid, and the list goes on. But If I had said no and listened to those fears, I would not be who i am today because running has played a part in shaping me to a certain degree, both physically and emotionally. And even spiritually.

 - I was afraid to begin a 5K in memory of my mom. But I put my trust in God and guess what? We've now awarded 3 scholarships to students in need and I have an amazing job because I said yes to that.

 - I was afraid to be me. I was afraid to allow myself to be used and to be true to who He has made me. And in that process, my faith was crippled to a certain degree. Now I am thriving because I am being who He has made me. And my faith runs deeper than it ever has.

 Fear can be crippling. It is the opposite of faith. Maybe you're afraid to change jobs because you're comfortable where you are, but changing jobs could lead to amazing things. Maybe you're afraid to leave a relationship because you don't want to lose someone, but perhaps that's what God's asking you to do. Or on the other hand, maybe God is asking you to stay in one in order to work His miracle of what only He can do. Fear or faith? Which will you choose? Perhaps you're afraid to start something because you fear failure (could be starting to run, could be starting to lose weight, could be starting to write or to run a business....could be a list of anything) . But if you never start, you'll never know. Don't let fear cripple you. Trying and not succeeding the first time is better than never giving it a chance and always wondering if you could.

Fear or faith?

  Swimming is a small example of conquering a fear. But this week, I will conquer the fear of putting my face in the water so that I can learn to properly swim laps. And who knows where it will lead? Perhaps a triathlon one day.... or perhaps just a newfound way to exercise. Either way, I'll be conquering a fear.

 What will you choose today.... Fear of ________________ or Faith in the One who knows everything about our days and our life???

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Little Moments

The week is nearly gone , and I have no idea what even went on this week! Ever have one of those?
  So I am sitting down to think about it a little bit and remember the little moments that have made up the good times of the week..
 - An amazing Sunday afternoon run in the sunshine
    - Movie night with the kids and dinner on the couch, something we rarely do.
- Lunch with my good friend, Kristin. Just what the dr. ordered on what had been a frustrating morning for me.
   - A best friend who listens to me, laughs with me, lets me cry if need be, supports me, tells me when I'm wrong and totally says go for it on all my crazy ideas
     - Being a dreamer and a goal setter. It's part of who I am and I have learned to love it. My list grows all the time, but it's fun to have dreams
- Listening to Elizabeth talk excitedly after her first time at journalism club. She may have found a new niche, and I am excited to watch her grow through it
    - A warm bed. The weather is turning cold. I am thankful to have a warm bed on cold nights
       -Peanut Butter Pop Tarts. A newly discovered treat for me. Yum.
- Determination - it goes a long way. I've decided to start kicking things off my "bucket list" (but the list needs a better name, since I'm not sick or dying . Perhaps Rachael's fun wish list??)  This week I began learning to swim. Yes, I am 32 and could not swim. I could dog paddle, but that only goes so far. Now I am learning to swim laps... something I've always wanted to do. (Stay tuned for future blogs on that)
     -  Thanskgiving decorations. My favorite holiday. Favorite decorations.
 -Pumpkin Lip Gloss
      - Sharing a cup of coffee with a friend
 - Saturday afternoon football.

The little moments. They make me smile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hide and Seek

Growing up, Hide and Seek was always an activity found at our home on the weekends.
 We had the large spread of farmland, barns, trees, bushes and places to hide, making our place a favorite to play the game. My friends and I would be outside for hours, into the dark, hiding. We'd whisper secrets, as we'd wait for the others to try to find us. We would sneak around the buildings, heart beating quickly to try to beat the person who was "it" to the base.  We would climb trees and watch below us as we went unseen to the seeker. Many times, my cousins, who lived just down the road, would come join and the game grew into an activity long into the night.
 Hide and Seek growing up was one of my favorite games to play. I very much disliked being the seeker, though. I did not enjoy counting on my own and then calling out "Ready or Not, Here I come!" and then searching all the spots, while they quietly and quickly snuck around me to the base. Never the fast one of the group, I often had to be "it" several times in a row until one of my brothers would have mercy on me and take my spot.  I did, however, always find an exhilaration in being the participant to sneak behind the seeker, reaching base and yelling out "Olly, olly Oxen Free!" (wherever that saying came from, I am not sure, but that's what we learned and that's what we said when we reached base without being caught)

 I thought about this in relation to life. To hide is much easier at times than to be out in the open. To try to tuck my secrets away, to not share, to put myself behind a large building and curl up and stay there is much easier than coming into a place of vulnerability and "being found" or life being exposed. But staying in a hiding spot is not what I am supposed to do. If we all kept our lives and secrets in the dark, how could we ever truly learn from one another? God wants us to use our lives for His glory, and that includes the dark hiding spots, too. Perhaps not always immediately or in the moment, but often times sharing and exposing can be part of the healing process.
God is the seeker, of course. He patiently waits (equivalent to me counting while the others go hide) . He waits for me to be used by Him. He waits for me to come out. He waits for me to be willing to expose myself. He waits patiently, but He is out in the open shouting to me all the while "Ready or Not, Rachael, Here I am! Ready or not, Come Out! You don't have to hide now!"  He is not playing hide and seek; I am. I am afraid to be "caught". I am afraid of what others might say. I am afraid of exposing my hurts and failures and being judged. And yet...why?  Just like my brothers had complete mercy on me so many times in the game, So does God. He is the most merciful one. And in coming out of my shell into His merciful presence, I can openly shout "Olly Olly Oxen Free!" Because that is what He has done for me. He has freed me. From my past. From my sins. From my guilt. I put myself in the hiding spot, though, and curl up. But quite honestly, coming out of that place is so freeing. Because He can use it.

 October was a painful month of growth and learning. While the month was full of many fun activities, the month was also clouded with times of decisions and obedience and discoveries. But going through a tumultuous month has definitely allowed me to stand strong, come out of my hiding place and shout "Olly Olly Oxen Free!" because I will no longer be held back by those moments, those times. I am free. Free to be me. Free to laugh. Free to enjoy life. Free to share my story with others. Free to be used by God.
  And that is the most beautiful place to ever be.

Hide and Seek. One of my favorite games still to this day, though it's hard to find adults to play. Perhaps more of us should be less afraid to be the seeker.  Both in the game, and in life. To first tell our story, but then To sit and listen to others. To allow stories to be told without judgement being passed. To tell others "Come Out! I'm here for you!" 
 Easier said than done, I know. But when you shout Olly Olly Oxen Free, you will understand the joy I am talking about!
 One day at a time.....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 1

November 1. Fall is most definitely here, but winter seems to be quickly approaching.
  This morning was a longer training run for me, and the hardest part was beginning because of how cold it was. In fact, as I ran, snow flurries fell around me.
 I believe it's a good thing that I'm training for a race in Florida, because that sure does add a push factor for me. To be completely honest, I cannot wait to get away for a weekend in Florida, and doing an activity I love.
    I love training. As hard as it can be at times,  especially in this cold weather, I love the outcomes. Every single race I run holds some kind of meaning for me. For many, that is silly. A race is a race. But for me, while I don't start out training thinking "oh, this race is about...." the journey of the training often times becomes that. This race I have taken on a new mantra. A race mantra, but a life mantra, too. And this race has become about my new mantra.
 Many people have mantras they repeat while running. Many have life mantras.
 I have used "It's all Good" Because my best friend says that and I love it. But it wasn't mine. I have said "No Worries" I have said "Dig Deep"
 But the newest phrase I have landed on is "Stronger Than Yesterday".
Because I am stronger than yesterday.
  2014, and specifically the fall, has held some extreme challenges for me. But, in all of it, I have become stronger than yesterday. We all do, if we evaluate and truly look at our lives. We are all stronger today than yesterday.
 But with my running, this training round was a challenge. I was tired. I had a lot going on. But I sat down, made my schedule and pushed through (ahem...am pushing through) the challenges and I am stronger than yesterday because I got up and ran. I am stronger than yesterday because I have learned new things about myself. I am stronger than yesterday, not through my own strength, but through the strength of Christ alone.
 Stronger than Yesterday.

 November is here, believe it or not. In 34 days I will run the Diva Half Marathon, and I cannot wait. I am stronger than yesterday, one day at a time.