Monday, April 27, 2015

#Dance in the Rain

Life is much like a marathon. You have to learn to press on, no matter what is happening, be it good or bad. When running a race, you can't quit in the middle of it if your time drops or your legs are tired- you keep going. In life, bad days and rocky moments are going to come, but you have to push on through them- learn from them- and keep going stronger. 
  Running has taught me many life lessons. Including, but not limited to, pressing on. Lately, I have loved the analogy of learning to dance in the rain.  It's going to rain. (you will have bad days). But, you can choose to be gloomy because it's raining (stressed because it's a bad day), or choose to get out and dance in it and enjoy it (embrace the moment, find the cracks of hope and joy in the midst of it, and smile). 
  This quote, "Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain, " by Vivian Greene, has become one of my favorites lately. 
   For life.
     For running. 
       For pressing on.

Because often times, running lends me the reminder that I am capable and strong and I can keep going. I can dance in the rain, so to speak.

 On Saturday, I got a real life parallel for this quote/life lesson. I have been learning to embrace this lately- in my exercise, but really, in who I am. And I have been learning to choose the dance rather than the gloom. And dancing in the rain feels great. 
  Saturday, I had the chance to run another race. I always struggle to shut the mind off from a goal and just enjoy. But on Saturday, I knew my training hadn't been up to par, and I really wanted to just go out and have fun. Race day called for rain. I can't say I was looking forward to that, but I guess I didn't dread it. I just told myself "it is what it is" and I would go with it. 
  When start time came around, the air was heavy with drizzles and sprinkles, but not a downpour. The temperature was perfect, actually. With around 18,000 runners, it took me about 15 minutes to get across the start line. And once I started, I never quit. The drizzle wasn't debilitating, it was almost liberating. Mile 8 was my toughest mile. Perhaps it was the distraction of being inside Churchill downs that slowed me a little; perhaps it was just my body getting a bit tired; perhaps it was the fact that someone started talking to me at mile 7 about my Air Force Marathon shirt I was wearing, and the AF Marathon itself , and I missed that hydration station somehow because of that... perhaps those are all excuses. It doesn't matter. I found my pace again at mile 9. And then the sky opened up.
 At mile 9, the rain came down. No more drizzle or sprinkles. I am not exaggerating when I say it opened up into an all out down pour. 
  But I loved it. I thought of this quote, and I nearly lifted my arms like a kid as the rain began to fall. (Don't worry... I refrained). But I did smile. And instead of slowing down, I actually picked up a slight bit. At the same time the rain began to pour, a song came across my playlist that said "I will praise You in this storm, I will lift my hands, For You are who You are, No matter where I am..."  That seemed timely and appropriate. My running and life lessons colliding again. 
  As mile 10 came around, I got a text across the phone which said "I hope you're having an awesome race", and while I didn't respond because I was running, I smiled, and pushed a little more. 
 Mile 11.... soaking wet to the bone. Literally. I gave up dodging other participants to avoid puddles and just splashed through them. My feet were soaked anyhow.
    I was tired, yes. My quads were a bit weary.  But I was having one of the most fun races I've had. Not because of my race pace, not because I was with a buddy, but because I was, in essence, dancing in the rain.
   Life's "troubles" were washed away because I was choosing to dance in the moment. I love the analogy. 
   I finished well. One day I will get out of that time zone I seem to be stuck in. But for Saturday, I finished with a smile, dripping wet, because I chose to #dance in the rain. 
 Dancing in the rain... be it in a race or in life.... it's freeing and fun. Try it out. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Little Moments

To recall "little moments" from a week a day late is better late than never... it just gives more opportunity for more "little moments" to accumulate.

 I sifted through some powerful lessons this past week to land in a very happy place. I love being in a happy place. Doesn't life just feel better when in a happy place? Why do I even allow myself to get anyplace different?
  Anyway... little moments are meaningful. Hang onto them.

 - Laughing with Lisa. We've been able to travel together a few times, and the more you travel with a person, the more you learn them. And the 2 of us laugh together over nothing, which feels wonderful. I could tell all the little stories that make us laugh, but they'd make no sense. I will say, though, that upon arriving at our destination, the bellhop asked us what was so funny because we were laughing so hard upon arrival. When seeing him the next day, he asked us if we still had the giggles, which made us burst out laughing all over again. Laughter feels so good.
   - Runners can be strange sometimes( I am one, so...I know), but they also can be awesome. I met a few this weekend which will stick with me forever. One group made me cry (in a good way). Another group made me laugh so hard I ended up crying. Memorable moments.
    - Warm apple pie.
 - Rain.
  - My friend, Beth.
        - A good conversation to prompt positive thoughts in the right direction.
      - Music. Music is happy. It puts a pep in the step.
 -An awesome new running shirt that embodies the inner me with its wording
    -Surprise gifts. I love giving gifts, and I am not one to really care about getting them. But when a surprise one finds its way to me, it makes me smile. And feel loved.
      - A friend who answers the phone every. single. time. be it text or call.
        - McDonald's hamburgers. I know... it goes against all my nutrition knowledge. But I confess it to being one of my secret downfalls.
    - Puddles.
        - Rainbows.
     - A warm towel handed to me stepping into the lobby after a soaking wet run. Good customer service leaves a smile :)


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pride comes before a fall... Literally!

I have taken spills while running, but there's always been an explanation of sorts, no matter how dumb the fall was.
 I caught my foot in a crack, or I stepped off the sidewalk onto the road and my foot rolled. And always, those spills I have taken while running were ones which occurred with no one around (usually because it's dark out when I run.)
  But, I will admit to a first for me this week.... and then I'll tell you what it taught me.
I was walking in the store and fell. My foot didn't catch a crack. There was no wet floor signs or slippery areas (I know, because I wasn't alone and I was most certainly the only one who fell.) And no one pushed me or bumped into me. It wasn't my high heels I was wearing. I simply fell. And not really all that gracefully either.
  I have a bruised knee to prove it... but I think it bruised my pride in that moment even more.

Falls are embarrassing. But that fall taught me a powerful lesson. I just didn't recognize it in that moment. I picked myself up, and kept going, like I do when I fall. But, I wasn't ready to laugh yet.
  You see, I fight this need to prove to others around me all the time that I am good enough. I hear a negative word said, and it sticks with me for days, then I feel the need to prove that person wrong.
 Or perhaps it's not a negative word, but an unspoken word, a person's action,  that leads me to feel like I'm not good enough, and thus feel the need to prove that I am worthy of a good word.
   Note the above statements...I...I... I... This could be called insecurity... it could also be called pride.
Because really, what I am doing, is rather than being comfortable in who I am and what I'm doing and confident in my abilities regardless of words said (or left unsaid), I am desperately trying to push a person to say  something or notice something I'm doing so I can be affirmed. Pride.
    But I think what that fall opened my eyes to was that I am even more so trying to prove to myself that I am capable, I am worthy.
    Pride. A focus on oneself.
     I am not designed to work for the praise of others, or even myself. I am designed to work for the praise of an audience of One. The One who matters. My Savior.
  Everything I do is to bring Him glory.  Not me. Not others. But Him. This applies to every area of life.  I am to strive in that everything I do, whether it's eating or drinking or working or running or mothering or planning an event, to do so  for His glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  It's not about what my family, my husband, my kids, my boss, my coworkers, or my best friends say about me... what matters in the end and in the scheme of life... is what He says about me. What God says. And He sees into my heart. And knows my motives and my deepest thoughts and desires.

 It is said Pride comes before a fall... and I would say that to be true of my fall in the middle of the store.
  I needed that fall to teach me a lesson. About pride. I would not have put myself in a prideful category, but anytime my focus is turned into me (and believe me, when I get stuck in my thoughts and head, the focus gets turned easily from others to me, and not really in the most positive fashion,)  that is also a form of pride.
  Taking that little (okay, kinda big) fall gave me a moment to soak that in.  I needed that fall because I was having a hard time snapping out of those thoughts lately.
   And that fall taught me to turn my thoughts in the right direction.
  It also taught me to laugh at myself.
   And laughing at myself is one more step in being comfortable with who I am.

 I want to clarify by saying.... words of affirmation and praise of others is not a bad thing. But, in essence, sometimes I need to hear the words "You're tougher than that." or "Be a realist sometimes, Rachael..." in order to come around to the better thought process of accepting who I am regardless of words and making sure I have the right heart behind my actions.
  And that I don't have to prove myself to others. I just need to be me.
       Because being me is awesome.
    And I live to do everything for His glory, not mine.  An audience of One.
       One day at a time.

Monday, April 20, 2015


If you have not figured it out yet, I am a goal setter. First, a dream begins forming in my heart. Then, I take that dream and set goals. And then, I take those goals and begin actions.
  I love having goals.
    I love seeing results.
      I enjoy hitting new milestones.
Yet, sometimes, those milestones come not from actually achieving the goal which was set, but from all that I learn along the pathway of life attempting to achieve that goal.

 I am in yet another race week. Saturday I will run the Kentucky Derby half marathon. Initially, I set out to run this race and finish in 2:15, which would be an amazing finish time for me.
  But along the way,  through different obstacles and challenges, I knew that I would not meet that ambitious goal this April. At first, I felt disappointment, but then, I picked myself up and felt pride.
 Pride because I have continued to persevere through all the winter obstacles.
   Pride because I haven't quit.
     Pride because I am still going, still running, still trying.
 I had the privilege to run an unexpected event a few weeks ago. I had so much fun, and upon finishing, I thought to myself that I could have a great race coming up. Then, I experienced a few more challenges between that race day and this upcoming one. But, I am not giving up.
  I am not a quitter. I am a goal setter.

 I am not upset or sad that I will not reach that initial goal I set. I am proud that I have kept pushing through the obstacles and will finish the race on Saturday.
  Because, you see, as Benjamin Mays said, the tragedy does not lie in not reaching my goal, the tragedy would be in not having a goal to reach.

 My spring goal has now become my fall goal. I am not giving up on it. I am extending it. And I have no doubt that as I have learned much about myself along this journey, I will continue to learn valuable lessons in the upcoming months of continuing to pursue this ambitious goal.
    I have learned about self- control and determination.
       I have learned about choosing gratitude instead of frustration.
I have learned to slow down and enjoy life a little more.
       I have learned to love me a little more.
      I have learned how great having a goal is, and yet not reaching the goal does not mean failure.
  I have learned not to be defined by others' definition of success, but to write my own definition.

   Pick a goal. Just one. The journey begins there.
 Then see where it takes you.... you will be surprised at all you will learn along the way.
    One day at a time.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Contentment Vs. Control

Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13
" I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. "

 How many of us can truly say that and mean it? How many of us struggle to be content? Usually, most of us want more of something
 Maybe more money.
  Maybe more things.
 Maybe more in a relationship.
  Maybe more from a job.
   Maybe more friends. 
  Let me be honest: I often want more in some area of life. I'll raise my hand on that one and tell you I struggle to be content. But, as I have evaluated this, I have learned that the moments I am most struggling to be content are the moments I am most trying to be in control.  And most of the time, what I am trying to control, is not for me to do so. 
 This is a painfully long lesson to learn, but the more I walk through it, the better I am able to see what my ever-patient God is trying to teach my very stubborn self.  
  Alexander Graham Bell said "When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." 
    We often times are trying to control some sort of circumstance or person or outcome, that when it doesn't go our way, that's all we see rather than seeing what opportunity could lie ahead or perhaps what lesson we can learn from not reaching the desired outcome. 
  Letting go of control is hard. Being content in life is a challenge. 
Not if, but when, I put my focus in the right areas, contentment is more easily found.  
 Let go and let God... easier said than done, but when followed, peace and contentment are found.Because I am not trying to be the master of my own plan. 
  What happens when I replace trying to control life with the godly principles of allowing His plan to lend me contentment?
 I become far more grateful. I see the positives instead of the negatives. I am truly thankful for what I do have, rather than what I don't. That closed door becomes a blessing rather than a frustration.

 I am joyful. Because it no longer become about me. It's about Him, and His plan for me. His Word says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the plans He has for me, to prosper and not to harm... why in the world would I even want to take control and try to say or imply that my plan is better? Being content in His plan is better than trying to control my own. That only lands me in lessons full of pain. 

I learn to live above life's circumstances. Why? Because ultimately, it doesn't matter what I try to do, life is going to have tough days and hard times. Trying to control those doesn't change the outcome. But learning to be content in them does. Learning to be content helps me live above the circumstance. 

 I learn to rest in God's providence. When I trust in Him, He lets all circumstances unfold for  His good. When I try to control, those things may not turn out as well. Relinquishing control leads me to resting in His providence. The best place to be. 

I cannot control others, but I can control my own responses and actions and attitude. It takes much practice, but contentment is possible- gratitude can be found in every scenario. 
  The more I let go of control, the more contentment I find. Because as Paul said, whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. 
  Because who I am, who He is shaping me to be through these circumstances and experiences, is beautiful when I relinquish the control and truly be the me He is designing. 
     One day at a time. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Little Moments

"An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity." -Winston Churchill

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? The world is full of both.
 If you ask a person I interact with every day in life which I am, you'd probably hear the answer that I'm an optimist.  When people are complaining,  I strive to help them find the positive in the moment.
  But, if you ask me, I'd tell you I err on the pessimist side, because when it comes to my own situations, I tend to see or think the worst many times.
   But I am striving to change that. Practicing gratitude and finding the positives takes a lot of practice. But it's so possible. I tend to soak in the bad end of things for a little bit, but after a day or two can pull myself out... I just have to process it.
 An attitude of gratitude, finding the little moments in every day, is very possible. But it takes practice.
  Try this if you struggle with it....I read about this and the author referred to it as "The Glad Game".  I found myself writing these things down this week, and after doing so, found the positive side of the situations.  For instance....
     I may battle anxiety, but I don't have a life debilitating illness. 
 I may not be the fastest runner in my age group (or fastest in any group...), but I am healthy and can finish my races.
     I may have a sunburn, but I am so thankful to feel the sun on my skin again. 
 I may have gotten into a small accident, but no one was injured. 
        It might be a chilly morning when I long for summer warmth, but the dew on the grass and the sun rising is so very beautiful. 
    One door may have closed, but that means somewhere soon another great door will open.
       I might have had a bad day, but I am healthy and alive and no one died, so really, it was a good day, which teaches me lessons of becoming stronger.

 See what I mean? Try it... you'll find many positives, and before you know it, your frustrated self will turn incredibly grateful. And perhaps you'll become the optimist who sees opportunity in every calamity.  I have much for which to be grateful.

  - We awarded another scholarship this week to a student in need.
    - My kids are learning valuable lessons in "working" to raise money for their camp this summer... and watching them learn these lessons and change their spending habits and desires is a wonderful experience as a parent.
      - One evening, after a rougher day for me (mostly because I allowed myself to sit in the negative in the moment before I took time to be positive) I came home to a gift I'd seen, made a comment about, but it was way too expensive to buy. When I arrived home,  I was welcomed with a gift that was hand made as a replica to what I'd seen (a beautiful shell candle.... and the hand made version was much better because there was so much thought put into it)
   - Dinner with a special friend with whom it was so good to reconnect once again.
     - Positive feedback and a support system
 - Libraries, where I have a plethora of resources and free entertainment for myself
     - A kind, old businessman who offered words of encouragement and genuine, hard work with the friendliest spirit
       - Laughing with coworkers at the antics and spirit which unfolded in a humorous manner in the midst of a mundane day. Laughter is always good for the soul.
  - My dad. He may not always have the words to say, but he is always there for me.
     - Lotion and aloe. Welcome gifts for a fair skinned gal like myself.
 - chapstick

    God is good.... All the time. And little moments are found laced all through every day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"What If" Becomes A Precious Perspective

What if I fail....
   What if no one comes...
What if I don't have enough money to cover all this...
 What if...

If I am being completely honest with you, these are the thoughts I have poking into my thought process so often these weeks, as I approach the unfolding of the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K.
  I actually don't like admitting these thoughts out loud, because for a brief moment, I'm letting you in to the secret fears I face. But I do so for a reason. (Bear with me...we'll get there, I promise)

   This is normal for event planning, I think, even if all event planners don't admit those thoughts out loud. Quite honestly, I face these thoughts every year, and each year, God is patient with me,  waiting for me to come around to a precious perspective-His perspective- yet again, where I realize I am not the one in control.
  He has given me abilities to plan an event. He has given me resources to unveil new and exciting aspects to the event. He has planted a passion in my heart.  But, it's not about me. It's about Him.
 It's very easy to get caught up in the details of planning, sending emails, making calls, putting plans into motion. Those details are concretely in front of me. It's a greater challenge to remember in every little detail of what I do that this event is not because I love running. This event is not about being good at executing a plan. This event is not even about my mom.  This event is about being a help to students in need.
  Students who have a heart for God.
    Students who can take His light to patients for generations to come, spread all over the world.
       Students who may or may not be able to stay in nursing school without the Linda A. Ferguson scholarship.
   And so I allow my "what if" statements to turn a little bit, for the more positive...

What if I didn't host this 5K?....Then there would  be no scholarship
 What if I didn't take the risk of failure?  Then I would not experience God's faithful rewards of success.
    What if I gave up when it got hard?  Then I would never learn the powerful lessons of a precious perspective.
      What if I allowed my insecure thoughts to rule my decisions?  Then I would never grow, never become the woman God is shaping me to be, using these events, and these risks, and these precious perspectives to grown into her.

 And so I allow God to transform all my "What If" Statements into a New Precious Perspective.

  Below, you will see the picture of this year's Linda A. Ferguson Memorial Scholarship Award
This is why I get to do all that I do. This erases all those doubts, even if they return in a nagging manner, I am able to step out of them and get a precious perspective. This student below has a heart to take her nursing abilities overseas, to help less fortunate patients in less fortunate countries. This puts it all into a precious perspective for me.
   I will still battle those "what if" statements; it's the nature of the beast for me. But, I dare to dream.
  And I will allow this fresh, precious perspective to help me rise above those what ifs. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Brand New Ending

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."  Carl Bard

  Every day brings about a fresh start. A new opportunity to make a brand new ending.

For fitness Monday, I don't have anything outstanding to post. I am not really any type of fitness guru (in case you were unaware!).
       I don't have a degree in nutrition or health or fitness.
   I'm not like many of my peers in the industry who are sought out to do important tasks or speaking engagements.
       I don't have all ( or even many) answers about the mechanics of the body.

 But I carry a torch of passion which lights the way for me on the path of life, every step forward.
   And, as the author said above, I can't go back and make a brand new start (nor would I want to, as my story is part of what makes me who I am) but I can start from now and make a brand new ending.

 So, my writing for today's "fitness Monday" post is simply to tell you, whatever your passion is, be it running, biking, swimming, or something completely non-fitness related, like writing or teaching or speaking, do it simply because you love it. Take in the beauty of it, instead of focusing on where it might get you. Goals are wonderful; trust me, I am probably one of the biggest goal setters, go - getters out there.
  But sometimes, it's good to "stop and smell the roses", as they say. Let life slow down, if only for a few minutes, to appreciate the beauty around you and enjoy yourself. Take in the moment of your passion and savor it.
  After a week off from training, (I have had way too many interruptions in training this year; and yet, those interruptions have taught me much.) I set out on a run yesterday. I decided I was not going to time myself or put headphones in or worry about the fact that I have another race coming up in less than 2 weeks... I just wanted to go out and enjoy it. And let me tell you, the beauty of the morning spoke for itself. And enjoying myself in the moment of the passion I so savor, I saw God's beauty in a new light. Literally.
    Blazing sunrise.
       Fresh dew on the ground.
           Ducks waddling around.
             Birds chirping.
                The smell of fresh dirt.
                  Steam rising off the ground, as frost met warmth and the 2 collided to bring about steam.
          Fluffy white clouds.
            Flowers blooming.
              Leaves growing.

   The beginning of a brand new ending. New mercies.  God's beauty. Around me every day, only often I'm too busy or too focused to enjoy it.
  So, today, my "fitness advice", if you want to call it that, is to say to stop and just enjoy what you're doing. Even if it's only for a moment. You'll be glad you did.

fresh dew
beautiful clouds

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Little Moments

"The hardest arithmetic to master is the that which enables us to count our blessings." -Eric Hoffer

  I read that quote, Stopped, Read it again. I really like it. How true is it that so often we struggle to count our blessings ? I am guilty of this, but that is a problem I am actively working to fix. Hence, my little moments blog was born on Fridays. While math has never been my strong suit, I like the picture Eric Hoffer painted by saying the hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
    In the night, I woke to the sound of thunder and lighting. Typically, I'd be annoyed at the interruption of sleep, since I already struggle to get a solid night's sleep. However, last night, I laid there,  appreciating the flashes of lightning, anticipating the crashing of thunder and admiring the steady fall of the rain.    
 In that moment, in the middle of the night, the thoughts of contentment rested in my mind. I've jotted them down for a future blog, but for this morning, I will simply share highlights of little moments collected through my week, much like the rain collected on the ground last night.

 - Weather (finally) warm enough to roll down the windows while I drive and let the wind whip my hair around my face
    - A roof over my head to protect me from stormy days
- Doctors and modern medicine.  When sickness falls, I realize how grateful I am for my normal good health, which I take for granted. I also am thankful for medicine and doctors to help diagnose and get me better.
   - Puddles to jump in, bringing out  my child-like spirit still deep in me, which can often get outweighed by the adult woes of the world I too often let creep in
     - A bike ride with my son
  - A grown up adult like girl time with my daughter and the appreciation of open communication that lives between the 2 of us.
   - My job. It can be easy enough to look at my bank account and get overwhelmed by how quickly the money goes towards bills and nearly as soon as it comes in, it goes out. However, I am grateful that I have the money to pay the bills. Not everyone is that lucky.  I am blessed. Even if by the end of the week I can at times be down to pennies, God is good . He always provides.
     - A super fun gift from my 'secret sister' at church. I was thrilled to find a goodie bag for me, full of my favorite snacks, bottles of water (yes, this excites me! ) and a book full of quotes about gratitude. I smile as I pick up the book, and thank God for this person not yet revealed to me, who filled a bag full of simple things that brought me much joy.
      - Thunder storms. I love them. Even when they wake me up. I have a comfortable bed to lie quietly in and savor the sounds, but still be protected from the harshness of the wind and rain.  The sounds are peaceful and relaxing. And, friends, you cannot appreciate that sun without the rain.
 - The sound of lawnmowers again. And the smell of fresh cut grass..... pure heaven, from my perspective.
    - Waking up to warm, muggy air after a fresh rain, like a thick blanket, wrapping around my skin as I walk out the door.
 As the thunder and lightning and rain flashed, crashed and splashed around my atmosphere last night, I was reminded that life will often bring storms. But, sometimes, as quickly as a storm rolls in, it can also blow out, and left in its place are blessings, joys, and fresh perspectives..... if we choose to allow that in.
 God is good; All the time. I say that often, and I do not say it as a cliche. At times, I say it to remind myself in a moment when I may not be feeling it. I say it to remind my friends. But more than that, I say it because it is so true. God is good. He brings the rain, but He also brings the sun. Count your blessings. They are there, laced all throughout your day. You just have to have a mindset to master that "hardest arithmetic".
 One day at a time.

colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.