Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I learned in January

Every year, I tend to do a wrap up blog that shares what I've learned through the year. I always enjoy that- I'm a reflective person, and I process my life often,  and much of that tends to be about things I've learned, both good and bad, silly and serious , and.... you get the point.
  I've been connecting up with more bloggers lately, and in so doing, I am often inspired for a new blog or to link up to their idea.
 Through Chasing Blue Skies, I also found Emily's blog, which prompted this one- What I have learned in January. Life is a journey, and we are always learning new lessons. Why not share them with others? You can choose to read or move on... but here's a little bit of what January brought my way and taught me.

 1.  Reading is one of my guilty pleasures in life.
     I have always been an avid reader, but over the last several years, I have, in many ways,  abandoned that love out of guilt. Guilt that laundry was calling or dishes needed done or my kids needed me doing something for them. And by the time I got around to even thinking about picking up a book, my eyes were far too heavy to get further than a few pages. I am putting away the guilt and picking my books up again. I love it. I'm still present with my family. If they truly need something, I'm right there. As for dishes and laundry, an hour of reading doesn't mean those won't get done. They just get done a bit later. And sometimes, that's ok. I am taking all kinds of book suggestions (Ahem... feel free to leave me suggestions!) and writing them down and, little by little, even crossing them off. I love to read fiction and non fiction both. My mom used to sit and read for hours. Sometimes to us, and other times, her own book, even late into the night. Life never stopped because she read. Why should I think mine will if I pick up my books? It's been great to be back at the library and soaking in books again.

2. I am most definitely an event planner, and it's a gift
    My whole life, I have been sort of made fun of (within my family especially) for being a planner. I used to be pretty ridiculous about it, but the older I have gotten, the better about it I have become. That being said, this week as I was thinking on some things I am currently planning, it donned on me that I am, in fact, an event planner.  It's kind of a gift, even. I am not perfect at it, but not everyone can plan something and pull it off. This is not to toot my own horn. It's honestly just more of the cool things I"m learning about myself on this journey called life. I am an event planner. My goodness, it's even led me into the career I'm in now, which combines passions of both running and planning! God could not have put me in a more perfect environment. I don't know it all, but I sure love figuring it out and watching it unfold. I love making lists and crossing them off. I laughed, mentioning this to a friend this week, who was kind of like "Duh, Rachael! You're just now figuring that out??"   I am currently (besides my life career, which plans all year for one event) planning an event for March and an event for May. And I guess I kind of did a mini event this weekend, even though I didn't really view it as that. Sometimes my planning is annoying to others and I have to curb the excitement I get over it. But honestly, it's a gift God's given me and I am going to use it for Him and keep on going with it. Who knew when I was 10 and planning out life that somehow that piece of me would turn into this?? God knew. He always does! It's pretty awesome, really. What I start planning sometimes evolves into something completely different, but that's part of what I love about it at times.

 3. God is Patient, and my plans are often not His for me. 
   I make the same mistakes over and over or I have the same frustrations over and over or I experience anxieties over and over, but God is forever waiting there for me to remember to come back to Him with it all so He can carry it, instead of me trying to do it on my own. He can take care of me, not others. My worth comes from Him, not from words or work or people. He is forever patient with me, as I learn this lesson over and over. I am so grateful for His patience. And hope that as He is patient with me, I will learn to be patient with others as well. And along with that goes the fact that my plans, what I want, isn't always what He has for me. But somehow, what He has for me is way better. And He patiently waits for me to come to that conclusion.

4. The Value of a True Friend
  How often do women struggle with friendships? I will be honest, I am a people person and crave friendships all the time. I love to be around others and soak them in and, honestly, share my life with them, too. I've heard it said you really only have 3-5 true lifetime friends. I am beginning to understand that. People come and go, but every once in a while you find that very true friend in the midst of the chaos. One you can always call, no matter how much time has passed. One who you can not have to say much to and they understand what you're feeling and thinking. One who is with you when you mess up and celebrates when you succeed. I wrestled through this a bit this month for some various reasons I won't launch into here, but needless to say, I am quite blessed to work through the discoveries of true friends. You don't need a hundred... let me rephrase ...I don't need a hundred.... God has blessed me with a few. And though some are near and others are far, those few are precious gifts. And I hope I can be the same to them and others around me.

5. You don't take things with you. 
   What does that mean? This life is temporary. It's often hard to remember that. But in the end, when life is over, those things are still here. What continues on though are memories. And legacies. What am I doing today to capture special moments and leave important life lessons behind me when I'm gone? My mom did that well.... I want to , too. It's not about things. It's about people. and loving. and being in the moment.

 I suppose January has taught me a lot, or re-taught me even. Some fun things, some serious. Thanks, Emily and Kristen for the prompt :) Now, my readers, what have you  learned this month?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Be Intentional

TGIF! Right? Generally on Fridays, I sit here and write about my little moments from the week. While I had several of those this week, I have the revolving thoughts of another topic today.
Be Intentional.

January in Ohio brings dreary days. Grey skies are the general daily occurrence, with cold temperatures and  snow and ice. Many people fall prey to the problem of seasonal depression. I certainly can relate to their emotion. I found myself talking this week about being intentional. And quite honestly, being intentional applies all year round. Winter just brings about the thought a little more.
  Be intentional about finding sunny days amidst the grey ones during the long winter season. 
    Be intentional about getting up and running (or exercising in any way) when it's really cold out. 
      Be intentional about finding good moments in the midst of the bad days. 
 Be intentional about smiling to those who are grumpy and full of negativity. 
   Be intentional about being different. (there's my 2015 word coming around again)
Be intentional about taking time to pray and to spend time with Jesus- it makes a difference. 
 Be intentional with your words. Words carry a huge power- the simple act of a sentence can make or break a person's day at times. I know because I've been on both sides of that. (haven't we all??) Be intentional with what you say. Not wishy washy or full of fluff, but intentionally thought through. 
     Be intentional about being kind, especially to those you feel least like treating that way. 
   Be intentional about time- it goes quickly and gets wasted so often on worrying or on complaining, when in reality, it could be being filled with fun and memories and new joys, I just have to be intentional about it.
    Be intentional about being in the moment- pay attention to the conversation instead of the phone or the computer game; talk and listen instead of pretending you are; sip coffee a bit longer instead of hurrying off to the next appointment. Be in the moment, not worrying about the next one. 
      Be intentional in loving others. That's really what we are called to do. It's not about how much you do, who you know,  or how many lists you check off- it's about the unconditional, never-ending love of Jesus flowing through me to others. That's part of what makes me different, but can only shine make a difference if I allow myself to be intentional about it. 
  I cannot control others around me, but I can control my actions, my responses and my attitudes. I choose to be intentional. 

  Being intentional.  Specifically being intentional in the winter months is harder than when it's sunshine and blooming flowers out. But, being intentional carries a world of difference if and when we let it. 

 TGIF, my friends. What will you be intentional about today? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Change of Scenery

As I work towards rebuilding my long distance runs again a bit more slowly in light of not wanting to flare up the IT Band problems, I am remaining slow, but steady. That's alright. I still have time to work towards that ambitious goal.
 But this weekend, we went away for a quick trip, and I did not want to lose steam in the weekend runs. I always struggle to run when on vacation. Everyone is sleeping in, we aren't eating right and I want to just be able to do whatever I want. But, in the back of my mind, I knew I was going to a perfect location for some hill running and I wanted to take advantage of that. So I packed my running clothes and set my mind for a Sunday morning run.
 Tennessee mountains are beautiful. Majestic. Peaceful. And when it comes to running, a bit intimidating.  The rest of the family was sound asleep, and I quietly put on the running gear and stepped out the door.
 I am so glad I did.  Our hotel was at the top of a peak. The sun was rising. My breath crisply making waves in front of me in the cool air, I didn't even notice the temperatures because the view was breathtaking.
 The sun  rising painted pink and purple strokes in the sky. I literally stood still for a moment soaking it in before proceeding.
  And then I braced myself for some hills. Honestly, it all comes back to the mindset. The hills weren't that bad. In part, I think because I was just enjoying the run. The beauty. The moment. The fact that I was running hills and not hurting at all.  The hills that seemed intimidating hours before as I planned a short route became a welcome unexpected Sunday run in the midst of winter training. I didn't go long, but the hills (ok, let's be honest, compared to Ohio, these were real mountains, not just hills) did justice for what I wanted to accomplish on the run. And my calves (and glute) muscles today prove that. The run was so worth it.
 As I climbed the last hill back up to the hotel's lobby, I paused at the top and just thanked God for His beauty. The mountains are majestic. I am thankful for the change of scenery this weekend, and the challenge it provided. I am even more grateful for God's creation. His hands are evident all over the place, but something about the majesty of the mountains, seemingly rolling for miles, brings a whole new sense of appreciation.
  Side note for my food -loving friends: After an absolutely wonderful run I probably ruined every calorie burned by consuming a wonderful Southern breakfast, but hey... it was a vacation, after all! ;) 
 The view stepping out into the morning.....                

 then final climb (the picture does not do this hill justice)..... and the view from the top at the end

Beautiful, Sunday, Hill training Run!


Friday, January 23, 2015

The Little Moments

This week has been encouraging. Encouraging conversations , moments, and people. This week as I reflect at my list of things for which I am grateful this week, and I smile.
 There is a saying found in churches, but one which I have come to embrace and say quite often. And even often times, my closest friend(s) will finish the statement with me.
  God is good... ALL the time.

Yes He is. Every moment. Even in those difficult moments, He is good. All the time.  How do I know this? Because of all the little moments that happen through the week. It's obvious to see He is good in the big moments, right? But those little moments...He is in those too. He is good.. All the time. And all the time, He is good.  Here are some of my little moments this week:
 - I've had some precious time with my son lately. We have shared a couple of Starbucks dates, playing games and sipping our drinks and laughing. Very good bonding moments I hope are a new tradition of sorts.
   - When I have prayed for some specific things this week, I have seen God answer. Oddly enough, I didn't even realize it, but when I stopped to think about it, the little moment definitely was an answer to prayer. A quick text from Jenny. A phone call from Michelle. 2 of my very long distance friends who both reached out to me on the same day... God definitely knew and heard my prayers that day.
     - You know the old saying of putting a string around your finger to remind you of something? I got a ring this week to have the same effect. I got a ring with a bible verse close to my heart, reminding me His plans are best for me. Good reminder, if you ask me. :)
        - God's patience. I have been reminded of that this week and it makes me smile.
 - Cranking up the music and singing and dancing  while I cleaned.
   - My health. Often I take this for granted, but every now and then I am reminded how fortunate I am to be as healthy as I am.
    - New blogger friends. I love the blogging world!
       - Movie night out as a family- Night at the Museum. Not only was the movie itself good, but the previews for some of the new family friendly movies coming out had me laughing hysterically. Laughing always feels good.
         - Birthday donuts. It would have been my mom's birthday this past week. I miss her very much. When she passed away, doing a birthday cake for her felt odd, so we started the tradition of birthday donuts instead. Mom would have been 66 this week. Not a day goes by I don't think about her. But the process is different now.  Happy Birthday, mom. I will likely always celebrate her birthday. Without that, there would be no me!

  The little moments.... They are small and almost unrecognizable at times. But make up some of the best moments over time. One day at a time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Different Is Meaning....

It's 8:30 at night and I am sitting with a cup of coffee *decaf* and unraveling my thoughts.
 I rarely drink a cup at night, but coffee is one of my coping mechanisms. I drink it to calm down when I am stressed out, I drink it to wake up in the mornings, I drink it when I'm sad to cheer me up, I love to sit over coffee with my best friends. I enjoy having a cup alone to collect myself. Coffee is often times a need for me, as much as it is a want.  
 This post may not make it up until the morning, when I will no doubt be sitting over coffee once again. It's not a stretch when you walk into my little cubicle space and find a little wall -hanging made for me that says "Coffee is my Love Language". I do love my coffee.  
  Tonight, I chose the cup of coffee and my writing instead of folding laundry and doing dishes. I don't often "ignore" life's duties for those things, but occasionally, it's a must. Tonight,  the coffee and writing time was a must. Because writing helps me process.
  January is nearly come and gone, and at the beginning of this month *year*, I chose the word different to be my one word for the year. I find myself pondering this often, and what it means, but recently, I have found myself nearly lost in the old insecurities I've been overcoming, and needing to sit and remember what it is that makes me different and what it is that I want to do with that word.

 I have struggled and battled insecurities for years. I hate it; that downfall drives me absolutely nuts.  Tonight, I found myself having a long cry. After my long cry, I said to myself "It's ok....I'm ok.....I'm different..... and I need to remember and embrace that." 
 I told you when I introduced this word that there would be definite times of living out the word with difficulty. I think I have found that to be the case in the last week. Those old insecurities I so often used to listen to were trying hard to creep in to ruin my different  and making a difference. 
 Tonight, salty tears dried on my face, and a calm smile replacing the doubts that have tried to swallow me, I tell you why I am different. Why my different makes me Beautiful. Things only God could whisper to my heart, but not until I cried it out and let Him tell me. 
 - I'm a people person. I love to listen, talk, share, be real and vulnerable, and care. I literally empathize with those around me. I put my heart on my sleeve. He uses this. It might hurt me sometimes but guess what? this makes me different and different is beautiful 
    - I like to dress up. I don't have to. But I enjoy being dressy. However, I also like to wear yoga pants or jeans.  It's what makes me me. I don't have a specific style. I just enjoy different. I'm not up on the latest trends, but I don't have to be. I wear what I want because it feels right for the day. Thankfully for me, I have a job that allows me to express myself that way day to day.
       - I love and need coffee. I think the above paragraphs stated that well enough. :) 
  - I run for the pure love of it. 
   - I battle anxiety. Every day. It's part of me. Some days the battle absolutely exhausts me. Some days my throat hurts from holding tears and emotion inside because of the pressing anxiety. Other days it feels more conquerable. To explain it to others is incredibly difficult, although I should try harder. It's ok .... It's me. God uses it to share with those around me who would never expect that to be the case with me and He uses it to teach me to rely on Him every single day. It makes me beautiful. I once tried to deny it, shed it, fight it, hide it. But now I embrace it, accept it, share it. Our battles are not meant to be fought alone. We have a story for a reason. 
        - I love event planning. From birthday parties to goodbye parties to group outings and women's events to marathons and 5Ks. Event planning is found in many realms, but I love it. I so happen get to combine my passions of running and event planning as a career, which makes me different from many others. I get to do a job I love.
   - I am a goal setter and a dreamer. I have many ambitions and silly dreams and sometimes downright crazy goals. Those things can often be used in great ways. Sometimes, I have to be called back to reality and told to slow down, but more often than not, those goals and dreams become seeds of opportunity waiting to flourish. When they falter, they are lessons to teach me about God, about myself, about others. Being a goal setter and a dreamer is a beautiful part of me. 
      It's not what I do or don't do or what others say that make me me. Although there are moments I need a good kick in the pants to remind me that. It's about who and what God says I am. That is what makes me me. That is what makes me different. And that different can make a difference when I let it. I may not see the differences being made, but it's not always what I can see. It's simply about being used.
  This post isn't all about Yay me, look at me, this is me! Although it might sound that way. This post is about the many important lessons I am learning. And perhaps you can walk away and look for what makes you different. The every day pieces of you that might seem normal or mundane or like a simple existence are quite honestly, holding the potential to make a difference around you, if you allow it. God uses everyone and anyone with the willing heart who wants to let their different be used to make a difference. I may never know on this side of earth what that looks like....but I don't have to know. I just have to be me. 
  Psalm 139:14, 17-18 " I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. How precious  are your thoughts about me, God! How vast is the sum of them. Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand." 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Mindset = The OutCome

She is my worst enemy and my biggest competitor.
   She taunts me when I am moving slowly or miss a day of exercise.
 She knows my weaknesses and my strengths, and how to play upon each of those.
      She knows when I fail and when I succeed.
 She often shouts at me that I can do better....
   She tells me the treadmill is dreadful and that I should skip running altogether when the temperatures are below 0
                                          She is me. 

 Can you relate?
   My mind can be my best asset or my worst enemy, depending on the day and the route I allow it to take. Only I can control my thoughts. They can carry me far in my running goals or they can tear me down. They can tell me to stay in bed when it's cold or get up because I will feel better.
   I know my own weaknesses (sleep..potato chips...feelings of failure- can anyone relate??) but I also know my strengths (pushing through the bad, not giving up, fighting for my end goal results).
   I am my worst critic, but not my biggest cheerleader. And there are moments when those lies of never making it or not being good enough shout louder than the positive thoughts.
  I am most certainly my biggest competitor, and not achieving what I set out to do can become a negative moment....or I can choose to allow it to push me to become better.

Essentially, the choice is mine alone. Will I give up, or will I press on?  I have asked myself this the last couple of weeks on some days. I had lost some steam in the running goal. The IT Band threw a kink in my gung-ho training plan and when I set out on my 4 miles last weekend,  I felt slower than molasses. That 2:15 goal feels a bit impossible. But my own words come back to me to remind me it's more about what I learn along the way and giving my all than it is about if I make the time or not. But I often have to remind myself of that because my mind's lies- my worst enemy of myself-  can get in the way.
  And so I press on. This morning, enjoying a holiday off work, I actually was able to run in the sunshine!  I had to fight the mind on it for a few minutes, but the warm sun and melting snow coaxed me out the door. While I only did 3 miles,  I felt so amazing when I finished. Because I beat the old me and ultimately.....
  I felt like me.  The True Me. 

I sang a bit to my songs while I ran. I hopped around a few little icy patches. And I pushed through a small amount of pain. I beat my weaknesses today. And I smiled hugely. Today, it wasn't about the time goal. While yes, the goal remains in tact  and one I am not abandoning, today was about the enjoyment of the run. The sun. The pure love of the sport. About being me. And I felt amazing.
  I will continue to push through the hard. No goal is easily achieved- much work is involved in the process. But the more I push, regardless of the outcome, the better I feel. I will beat my biggest competitor- my own self. And  I will win, with a story to tell in the end.
                         The Mindset           =            The Outcome

Friday, January 16, 2015

the Little Moments

Some weeks, let's be honest, can be harder to find the little moments that make us smile. Because some weeks, life can be overwhelming. However, God is good...all the time. And there are always little moments. That's the point of my Friday little moments blog. I want to be diligent in finding those little moments, even in the difficult and frustrating moments. And so I reflect and appreciate...
 This week... in reflections....
   - O-H-I-O. I'm a Buckeyes fan. Always have been, always will be. I can't  quote you all their statistics, but I love watching their games. And this week, they claimed, and deserved, the National Championship . I even heard some, who have forever been haters on the Buckeyes, do that O-H-I-O chant. Go Bucks! 
    - Running. After resting a bit from a minor injury flaring up, I went back to it this week. Nothing heavy mileage wise, we'll try to incorporate that next week again, but it felt good to run and not have that nagging pain. 
       - Sun. Sun is a rarity around here in January, but yesterday it came out and began melting the ice and snow. I love the sun, even if temperatures are still cold.
         - New found friends. Jacqui, over at  is a new found friend. I love the world of blogging and how it connects me to women around the country. Women who build me up. 
             - Games with the kids. Sometimes I can find myself so caught up in details of life that I don't take time to enjoy the little moments with my kids. This week I was determined to get back to those moments. I have highly enjoyed sitting and playing games and laughing with my quickly growing children.
             - Coffee with a friend. Always a precious moment in time I love. Even if it's sitting quietly and just sipping coffee. I love having those few friends in life who just know me so well I don't even have to say anything. 
        - Laughter. laughter is always the best medicine. Sometimes laughter comes in laughing about dead squirrel stew (don't ask...) and sometimes it comes from being made fun of (it's good to learn to laugh at ones self) or girly giggles over silly comments and high heels. However the laughter comes, it feels so good to do it! I love to laugh. Noting those moments on paper helps because even when I think about them, I smile. That's why it's so good to remember the little moments.
  Because when we need a smile most, we can find it, if we look. 
 The little moments really accumulate and  make up the essence of life- the moments that matter. At least from my perspective. In the grand scheme of all the busyness and stress and decisions and bad news and hurtful words and ugly times......those little moments have the potential to bring a lot of joy. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Relinquishing Control

Jeremiah 29:11-13
  "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." 

     Do you struggle with control?  I found myself recently saying I do not struggle with it, but then shortly after, laughing at that statement and correcting it.  I do struggle with control, but not over others. I do not want to control others by any means. I struggle with trying to control my own life's path. When I have a goal in sight, I want to obtain it and I want to control the outcome.  And when I cannot, or when it goes a different way than I set out for it to happen, I become quite frustrated. It's out of my control.
   The Lord brought to mind the above verse. I have always known this verse, but there are times certain Bible verses are more applicable to life. For me, lately, remembering that God knows the plans He has for me has been a verse that has had to knock me over the head and say "Wake up and have faith! It's not all about your timing, Rachael." 
       I have lately been striving for new goals. I have had my heart and my dreams set on a few different things, and all of those things seemed to have come to a stopping point- or at least a point of reevaluation- all within the last week.  Being a goal-setter is a beautiful part about who I am. It drives me. It gives me passion. It pushes me to new heights. Most days, I love about myself that I am a goal setter. But when the goal's outcome is looking to take a turn, that creates  much frustration within me, sometimes even anxiety, as the thoughts get raveled up in my mind over how I can make it work, and I have to be forced to stop. I love when God gives me a verse that can speak directly to my heart and the issues which I face.
  Jeremiah 29:11-13. These verses have held different perspectives to me over the course of time. But during this particular season, the verses are breaths of fresh air as much as they are reminders to obey and quit trying to control the destiny.
    for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.
      - I am a planner. It's my nature. Being a planner is not bad. But sometimes, my plan is not God's plan. Every time this occurs in my life, I wrestle with God for days over it, trying to tell Him I know better. But ultimately, He is God. He knows best. And when He is showing me that my plan may not be His plan.... I need to stop and listen and evaluate. Relinquish control. He knows the plans He has for me. Whatever is not working out in my timeframe doesn't mean it won't work out. There may be something better on the horizon. Or maybe what I want, just a different timing.
   They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
      -The plans that God has for me are good. Maybe His plans stem from a dream and goal of mine, maybe not. Regardless, He will win out and the outcome will be good, because God is good. All the time. Some moments of not getting what I want feel like a disaster. But it isn't. It's simply a detour to take the path He has laid out for me, instead of my own path. He has an amazing future planned for me. If I look back 5 years, some of those moments felt absolutely abysmal. But guess what? God had a plan for my future...and sitting here today, I can see where He was leading. His plans never would have been mine, but I am so glad I am in His plan! So right now, amidst my frustrations, I have to trust that His plan is better for my future. I don't know what the future holds, but He does.
   In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
     - Prayer. What a key component to every goal and dream I have that sometimes I leave out. Or, I may do, but then expect the answer to be my answer and not a different one. God does answer. Every time. And sometimes, that answer is no. or Not yet. Or He's telling me, this is for a good reason. You are not ready. Wait. I have something better....  He listens. All the time.
     -The biggest piece of this verse not to be left out is to look for Him wholeheartedly. Then we find Him. I cannot ask Him to do something, to look for Him, with only part of me. I have to look with open eyes and seek Him with my entire heart. If He's speaking to me, i can't ignore that little voice and then expect answers in the way I want. I must look for Him with my whole heart. Then I will find Him. Every part of me, dedicated to Him and finding the answers He's so wanting to hand me. He is good. All the time.

  Control. A difficult thing to relinquish, no matter how you look at it. It could be control over  a relationship, self control over decisions to be healthier, self control to say no to bad decisions, or control over your own destiny. No one likes to not be in control, quite honestly. But I have learned, often times the very hard way, that His plans are far better for me than my own plans. I just have to seek Him wholeheartedly. And I look forward to what His plan is for me as it unfolds. This doesn't mean I give up on my dreams. On the contrary. However, I may go back to the drawing board full of prayer wholeheartedly, asking God to guide. He knows better than I do.  He always does.


Monday, January 12, 2015

It's about the journey

You know the category of four letter words, right? They hold bad connotations all around. Well, there is a four letter word in every runner's vocabulary that is enough to make one cry:
 A four letter word to a runner.
 One I have had to experience this past week. After getting into my training and being so excited about pursuing the new goal, I was forced to rest due to the IT Band Syndrome.
 For those of you unfamiliar, I will not drone on about it, but to give you some insight, it feels like knee pain, but isn't the knee, it's the IT Band. It's kind of awful, but caught early enough, not something totally devastating.
Well, the IT Band got me this last week. On my 6 mile run a week ago, I felt it a bit by the end of the run, but I was in denial because the training had just begun gaining its momentum. However, I have learned you don't ignore the body, so the next morning I set out to test it and a mile into the run, the pain was pretty rough, causing me to walk the rest of the way. Frustrated by the pain, I knew it meant I would have to rest.
  Rest really is a good thing for everyone to experience, runners included. However, when just gaining momentum and excitement, rest is extremely frustrating. For me, I am not a naturally fast runner- I have to really work at increasing my pace to decrease my time. And doing that requires practice and routine and days and weeks of training. Rest puts a dent in the plan.
  But, just as in life, where you have to learn to go with the good and the bad, so you do with running. I'd rather rest a bit now, only 2 weeks in, than 10 weeks in and closer to the race. I still have time.
 And, I must remind myself, while I desperately want to achieve my ambitious time goal, the training and the pursuit of the goal are about the journey and not whether I actually achieve the goal itself. I learn much about myself in the process. And having to take a week of rest is no different. I have learned about myself even this week.
  I couldn't run, but the IT Band injury does not prevent exercise all together. And I didn't want to lose total momentum, so I hit the gym and did the row machine and weight training. After all, those are important as well.
 But what I really learned (or perhaps remembered is the better word) this week in resting, is that while I want this new time goal and to improve my speed, running is so much more than that to me. It always has been. Running helps me decompress, think out life scenarios, push out the frustrations and anxieties and ultimately, running helps me love myself.
 When I was told (admittedly maybe more than once even) this past week that I was acting grumpy, I initially wanted to deny it and defend it. However, upon honest reflection, I will admit to that. And realized how much running does for my better spirits because of all it helps me work out- not just physically but emotionally.
 So, even if this kink prevents my time goal, I will keep pressing on, even if it means only a couple of miles at a time for now.
 Oh, I am still going for my time goal. I'm not giving up. But it's about the journey and the learning as much as achieving....
  So, I will set out today and see how the body feels- one day, one mile, one step at a time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Little Moments

Friday brings along the little moments. I love reflecting on these. It puts life back into perspective all the time for me. This week was full of them for me...

   In the midst of a winter blast, (and let me be honest and tell you I really do hate the cold), there were some beautiful moments found .

 - I enjoyed my first ever snow day as an adult. :)
   - to go along with my first snow day, the kids had one too, and we went sledding! We had a blast. And I may have incurred a couple of bruises along the way, but well worth it.
- Perfectly timed God-oriented conversation
  - A beautiful white, fluffy,  snow.
    -  A home to go to in the winter weather. A warm place to sleep and be.
  - Heated seats in the car
   - Playing old school games with the kids
     - The beautiful contrast of the red cardinal flying against the trees full of the white snow
 - Sipping hot chocolate with the kids after sledding
     - Foam roller - one of those kind of inventions that are wonderful when you need it and makes you wonder "why didn't I think of that?"
         - Snuggling with my 10 year old. Moments I know will not last much longer

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Beauty of Dreams

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

  Dreaming is a gift, I think. Of course, I might be a bit biased since I happen to be a dreamer. Different categories of dreams exist- those which are crazy and outrageous and wildly silly, and then dreams which are inspiring, turning to goals, turning to life being lived out.

  Some say they are not dreamers, they are just doers. I tell you I am a  "doer" because I'm a dreamer. My most accomplishing moments are born with the start of dream in my heart.

  The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. 

 I believe in the beauty of my dreams. Do you believe in yours?
   Maybe your dream is to own a home on the beach or by a lake in the mountains.
   Perhaps your dream is some type of amazing career.
    Or maybe your dream is to make a difference, one life at a time.
  Dreams can vary- from traveling to far away places, to going on mission trips to Africa (or anywhere) to help those less fortunate, or maybe organizing an event or a non profit group for a good cause.  Maybe your dream is multi-layered and something that will take years to unfold....
  Whatever your dream is, I must say I agree with Mrs. Roosevelt in that "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

 Have you ever had someone tell you you can't?  That you'll never be or do what you're setting out to accomplish.... I have. Once I had a friend tell me that I should take time to thank those who didn't believe in my dreams and goals. Because, ultimately, those nay sayers would be the ones who would push me the hardest, in essence to prove them wrong. At the time, I did not understand that statement. But I have come to appreciate that conversation.  I can appreciate the value behind it now. Without realizing it, those who would laugh at my goals/dreams, were the ones who pushed me the hardest to be better.  Perhaps it's pride to prove a person wrong.
 Perhaps it's the competitive side of me, which is quietly displayed, only to come out for few to see.
     Perhaps God uses those nay-sayers to help accomplish His goals for me and to use me.
Whatever the case, I have to agree with my friend who said that. Looking back, some of the very big dreams that seemed quite impossible came true, and I often smile at the remembered conversations of  those telling me I couldn't.

  While it may be a bit outrageous to say to a person they can do whatever they set their mind to, (let's be realistic, there are certain things that are crazily unattainable in some fashion) it doesn't mean one can't dream. Because if they're anything like me, their dreaming will turn into doing.
                                                    The only failure is to never try.  
And so I set out to try. To push forward in my dreams and believe in the beauty of them. I suppose this goes along with my word different this year, but something about this year just is refreshingly exciting.
  What are my dreams, you ask? I have a list going... and perhaps that will be for another blog to come soon. For now, knowing I believe in them is a good place to be.
  What are your dreams? Do share....
    One day at a time, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I am Ready. Bring it On.

As the word different is my theme word for this year, I have decided it's only appropriate to blog about the journey on which it is taking me. I find myself thinking about this action more than I ever have to a previous "year in a word" challenge, and I am quite excited about the possibilities.
   Opportunities exist every day to be different and to stand out. Accepting the challenge of doing it is what I have often ignored.
 That little voice that has whispered to me all these years...
 "You'll never be good enough."
    "You're too stupid"
       "You have done so many wrong things, who are you to try to be an example to anyone?"
   "You will never amount to anything."

That little voice that somehow dominated my thoughts for so many years...this is the year I am squashing it! I choose to be different. I choose to smash that voice and instead say....
   "No one is good enough. But by God's grace, we all have talents and abilities (and we are all different) and I will let mine be used to make a difference."
    "I don't know everything, but I'm not stupid. Not knowing is a good place to be, it means room for new ideas, new growth, new opportunities. Humility. Not stupidity."
      "No one is perfect. No one. That's why we all need Jesus. And that place of needing Jesus and letting Him take my differences is the best place to start becoming an example. "
     " I will be exactly what He has made me to be and keep growing in that direction. "

 Those are the new voices. It's kind of like a fresh book of open pages, waiting to be written. An authors most favorite place (and often times scariest) to begin.
  Is it scary? Oh, yes, my friend, it most certainly is. But it also holds much excitement and adventure.
  Be Different. I am ready. I've let go of the old and I am embracing the different. Bring it on.
 2015. A fresh book, ready to be written, one word, one page, one day at a time.
   Music holds a powerful effect, if we stop and listen to the words. I heard this song and felt it captured much of what I'm wanting to say/be with embodying different.
Lord, I am ready now.
   I've let go of the old. And I'm ready to be different.
     It's beautiful because it's who I am.
       Use my different to make a difference.
One moment at a time.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dedicated Running

The most dedicated runners make it happen no matter what. It's not just an interest, it's a commitment. Schedules, temperatures, sickness, or exhaustion don't stop one on the path of running towards a goal.
   I have read countless running books, blogs and stories. I enjoy reading about other runners' adventures and their training plans and journeys. I look at photos of these most dedicated runners and know that rain, shine, cold, sick, snow, family troubles or desire to sleep...they conquer those battles and get out the door and run.
 Now, I am writing my own story. (To a certain degree, I suppose. I'll never be in the famous category, so take or leave what you read here.)
  In a struggle over when to run this weekend due to family life and schedules, and quite honestly, a bit of  a desire for an extra hour of sleep, I found myself saying  "Well, the most dedicated runners do whatever it takes." Then I thought to myself, "Man, I want to be that."  Usually, the mind is the worst enemy, but I can choose it to become my best asset in running/exercise/goals.

And so  I began to think about my running plan.  I am excited/nervous about this journey of attempting a 2:15 half marathon. And only one week into this plan, I have already found myself having to regear what was potentially planned for a day's run. (And reminding myself that I'm only one week into it.) I'm not supposed to be achieving my goal yet. This is a journey. (Sometimes that's the thing with my being ambitious- I have to remind myself goals take time!) Yesterday was my scheduled long run. The alarm went off at 5 on Sunday morning, and I groaned inwardly, as the rest of the house was sound asleep, and in all honesty, I wanted to be as well. But I got up. And  As I tip -toed to the kitchen to get my coffee, the sound of steady rain greeted me. "It's going to be a wet run," I thought to myself.
 I never  wear a hat when I run. I don't like them. But, I thought to myself, "I am all about stepping out of what I do and accepting different and doing things in new ways if I need to." So I dug out an old running hat (Thank you, Air Force Marathon ;) ) and set out for 6 the rain.
 "Good thing it's not a cold rain," I thought to myself.
 (Side note: you may notice I had a lot of thoughts to myself in this process. That's what happens when doing these alone, house asleep, no friends willing to battle the elements with me, and stepping out into the dark morning runs. I have to talk to myself to keep the positive juices flowing! I promise I am not crazy!) 
   Anyway, the run ended up being a beautiful one. While dark and wet, I felt great. The wind whipped all over my face, but at least it wasn't cold. I gave up avoiding puddles and began to just laugh as I splashed through them, feet flying. My time was slower than I would have liked, but remember, this process of achieving a better time takes time.  It's a process. I was quite happy to have the wind at my back for the returning 3 miles. I'd like to say that having a negative split in my long run was a thoughtful process, but I'll have to get the tail-wind a lot of the credit this go around. Regardless of it's reasons, I was happy to have that negative split.
  I was happy I got up before anyone else and stepped out the door.  I am truly enjoying this training process and going about it differently than I ever have previously. It's truly a commitment v. an interest.
   The house was still quiet when I returned, so I brewed another cup of coffee for myself while I dried out and got the cinnamon rolls going. (For myself, part of this training is losing a bit of weight. Not because I feel that is a need, but more so I know that for every pound shed, I also shed a few seconds off my time. So I begrudgingly made an egg and toast for myself.)
  We enjoyed breakfast together, and I felt really good for being determined and getting up and doing my long run.
  My advice today? Don't let the elements tell you you can't. Don't let lack of others joining your journey discourage your own path. GO FOR IT!  Get out there.  You are the captain of your ship. Whatever your fitness goal is.... when your mind is in it, you can do it. The process is a journey. A marathon, if you will, not a sprint.  
One day at a time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Every year, the challenge is put out there to choose a word by which you want your year defined. This can be evaluated and looked at in many different ways. For every person who looks to meet this challenge and also choose a word, the challenge is different, the defining ways of the word are different. The Year in a Word Challenge, as I call it, is a unique experience for each person.
  I have done this the last 2 years. In 2013, I chose the word diligent.  I sort of followed that through 2013. But as with many new years type resolutions, and that being a new challenge presented to me, I didn't necessarily stick to it. In 2014, the word I chose was pray/prayer. Again, I didn't necessarily put that into practice as I should have, although as the year went along, the fact that I'd chosen that word stuck more closely with me.
 And so we come to 2015. I was unsure as to whether I wanted to attempt this again. Choosing one word is extremely difficult. And while it's not like writing something in stone, it's a goal of sorts nonetheless. I usually think this through and toss around a few options. However, this year, every time I have thought of this challenge, the same word has come to my mind. So, I have decided to go with this word for the year 2015:


 Again, upon choosing a word, this looks different (whoops, no pun intended there) for each individual. So,  as I have thought of this word over and over, I have contemplated reasons for this being the word which I am choosing to embrace and embody.
   I have spent many years of my life, in some ways, trying to be like everyone else, instead of being me. This year, I want to be different. I want to stand out. Not because I want to be someone special or a big time name known to everyone. I simply want to be me instead of being like the rest of the crowd. I want to embrace all the lessons I have learned in 2014 and take them into 2015 and be different. What makes me different, makes me beautiful, unique. God made.
 I will embrace different.
   I want to live differently this year.  I do not want to repeat the same mistakes. I want to learn and grow, which means stepping out of my box and doing different things. I want to lead and not follow. I want to get out of my comfort zone, which is, in essence, being in a different place.  I want to make different and better decisions. From the small to the large, I will be different. Being different may, at times, be something only I see. But, it might also at times be something others see. I want to be asked why I'm different. What makes me different.  So I can share my story and tell others why I'm different.  God has made me different, just as He has made each and everyone of us different. I want my different to be noticed this year for His glory, but just as much so, I want to embrace being different more than I ever have.
 I have no doubt this will not be easy for me at times. But I don't want to put this word on the back burner. After all, what makes you different makes you beautiful. And I find much truth in that statement.
   Along with that is the variation of that word, difference.
  It's my heart's desire this year to take what makes me different to make a difference.  A difference in all I do, in all I say, in all I am. I want to make an impact on those around me. From my husband to my kids to my friends and coworkers to the stranger in line behind me. Opportunities exist all around us, but how many of us- myself included- take the time to recognize those moments and do something about them? This year, I want to make a difference.
  To make a difference, I will be different.  And that is my word for the year. I'm excited to see what may come through this awareness of this word.
   One day at a time, I will be different to make a difference. 

 What's your 2015 Word?? 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Little Moments

Last year, I attempted to make Friday become a place to share the little moments through the week that meant big smiles/memories. I wasn't totally successful at always doing that, but I intend to be more diligent about that this year. About sharing those moments here. But even if I miss the opportunity to post them here, I am setting out to be more diligent to record little moments on a daily basis. 
 Why? Because on those hard days, which will happen inevitably, I want to be able to remember the little moments that matter. After all, I believe it's the little things in life that have the potential to make a difference. We just have to recognize those moments. So, the last moments of 2014 and the first of 2015....
  - Playing Fibbage with the family and laughing over misspellings and crazy answers (Like Joseph's answer "Shootgun" instead of shotgun )
      - Sharing a glass of champagne at midnight for the new year.
         - Recognizing and embracing who some of my truest friends are, and being ok with who wasn't
 - Snuggles with my puppy
  - A New Year's Day run in the sun. Cold? Yes! But you can't beat that the sun was out in January
    - A simple, thoughtful gift, of a protein shake mix and bonus of a shaker to go with it, which meant I was being listened to when talking about it all
   -Sushi lunch and insightful conversation with my good girlfriend
     - Hard as it's been, the reestablishment of the habit of daily situps and squats feels good.
       - Finishing a good book
      - Kind words of inspiration from a good friend I much needed to hear
  - Panera breakfast with an encouraging woman

 I love my little moments!