Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What I Learned In June

Is June really gone? Yes, my friends, it is. I am taking a small blogging break this summer, and just enjoying and trying to soak in family moments. But I couldn't give it up totally. I must share my favorite things- the "what I learned this month" blog. And getting away this month took my mind to a refreshing place of good reflections and heart's desires.
 July is sweeping in, and my hope is that it is bringing the sun and warmth it is well known for. Because, let's face it, June in Ohio has been semi-miserable with the dreary clouds and rain. It's supposed to be sunshine! But, a new day, a new month... most people do not have a favorite month of the year, but I do.
 I love July. And I am looking forward to it. July is full of beautiful memories for me. And every year I look forward to the calendar hitting that month.
  But this blog is to focus on June.
  June was a fun month.
The kids finished school. (and sadly, I said goodbye to elementary days. Now both my kids are in junior high! That goodbye and this new phase deserves a whole blog of its own)
  We took a family vacation to my favorite place in the world: the beach.
 And the kids (both of them!) were for the first time ever, both gone away for a week at camp.
   Summer rushed in , and while it may have brought rain with it, it also brought new experiences and precious memories.  So, here's a peek at what I learned in June...

 1. I like to window shop.
    The practical farm girl in me has never really been a shopper. In fact, I always actually dreaded going to stores, seeing things I couldn't afford or didn't want to spend money on, But, alas, this month, the girl in me admitted to the downfall of enjoying window shopping. On vacation, quite honestly, I found some enjoyment/relaxation in browsing all the beach front stores. But I think in the midst of the discovery of the fact that I like to shop was a deeper realization- I am a dreamer (that's not the realization, I've known that) but the fact that shopping brings out the dreamer in me, and I think that's why I like it.
   I love to buy things for other people. Not really myself, but others. And so I would browse and think about gifts I could give to others, even if I didn't end up buying them, it generated ideas.
    I enjoy browsing the bookstores, dreaming perhaps of one day finding my own on a shelf.
      Clothes of every style are fun to look at. Very few work on my body type, but that's ok. It's fun to dream anyway ;)
        Beach photos were found in all the art stores, and I fell in love with so many of them. I did not buy any, but perhaps one day I will have a beach portrait hanging on my wall. The gallery of art brought out that deep seeded desire (the dream) to one day make the beach my home (again).
   Beach jewelry was just as fun. The flip flops, shells, dolphins, starfish... all of those cute items called out to me. I bought a simple anklet for me, and one to match for my girlfriend. That was my only "beachy" purchase. Perhaps to leave the dream lingering for all of summer, garnished on my ankle.

 2. I forgot what life was like without kids.
      Actually, it's not that I forgot, I just never really experienced married life without children.I had babies young. The kids went away for a week to camp, and I thought "wow, is this what life would be like without them?" That sounds a bit strange, but I hope you follow me on this.  One evening I came home to salmon, salad and a glass of sparkling water in a fancy wine glass... a simple but beautiful gesture. Dinner was conversational and quiet both. No bickering, no belching, and no "babies". Strange. But enjoyable. We even went bowling one night. I missed them, and got teary eyed a few times at their new found independence of not needing me all week, and I was glad when they came home. But this mama won't lie- I did enjoy the week's experience of their time away. And by the way, they had an absolutely amazing time. :)

3. I'm a nerd.
   I might be a runner and passionate about that sport, but it does not, by any means, put me in the category of the "jocks". I remain in the "nerd" category. I get excited to go to Office Depot because journals, pens, empty notebooks, stationary and even pocket calendars excite me. I spend hours browsing the shelves of the paper stores. And it's rare I ever leave on empty handed. I was shopping this last week for a new notebook for a specific purpose, and my daughter asked me "Mom, why do you need so many notebooks?"
 She probably has a point, but I get happy in having a notebook in hand. I have a "thankful" notebook, a pour my heart out journal, a prayer journal, a book journal (where I jot notes from books I read), a 5K notebook, where I write every thought down I can remember about my event or what I want to do and things along those lines. I have a to-do notebook... it is silly, really. And it probably sounds bulky and disorganized.  People keep trying to get me to take notes electronically, but there's something sacred and old fashioned about a notebook.  What can I say? I'm a nerd ;) Or maybe... it means I am a writer?? One day, my kids will appreciate reading through all my many notebooks (I hope).

4. Salt Life
   I love the brand "Salt Life"  http://www.saltlife.com/live-the-life
It's not a newfound love, but I learned the entire story of the brand on this vacation. The entire story is fascinating, actually. The company originated in Jacksonville, where we spent our vacation. We visited the original store, as well as the restaurant. I am in love with this product.

5. I left part of my heart in Florida
   If you don't know my story, I will give you a very brief snapshot: I was born and raised in Ohio, a farmgirl. And I'd never trade that for anything.  But I  spent the first 7 years of my marriage living in Florida, 5 minutes from the beach, and moved back to Ohio in 2007. This (vacation) was the first time since my mom died in 2011 that my heart felt a pull towards to ocean front again. When we moved back to Ohio in 2007, I knew I left a piece of me in Florida. But over time, being in Ohio became familiar and good.  However, upon this vacation, I remembered just how much I love the salt water, the warmth, the sun, the beach, and the latin culture found there. And once again, I left a piece of my heart on that ocean front when we parted ways.  It's part of my story; part of me. The beach is my "happy" place. Maybe one day the wind will blow us there again... but until that time, I carry new memories with me.....

Friday, June 5, 2015

The 2015 Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K

One week has passed since the 5K took place, and some of my thoughts are collected well enough to share here for a brief moment today.
  The 5K seemed to happen in a whirlwind, but then again, that's what happens when you turn an event date around in 6 months.
  I experienced moments of wondering what in the world I was thinking...and moments of being totally content and confident with the decisions.
   I made drastic changes...pretty much the biggest deals of the event- the course and the date- and this entire year of the 5K was a growing experience for me.
   As a race director.
     In my faith.
        In learning who I am.
  So, let me recap a little for you, but preface by saying this: when experiencing God in the midst of an event in life, words don't do the experience justice. That's what makes it such an amazing journey. This year's event was that for me. Every year God shows up in amazing ways. After all, this event is about the scholarship, which is about Him ...not about me as the race director, not about the runners, not about my mom or my family.... it's about giving back to others in need,  for His glory, not ours.

  Lessons I learned in 2015:

- Mistakes Happen: While very few will know the behind the scenes dramatic mistakes that occurred this year, I will tell you that I learned some very big lessons through them. Like better proof reading, for instance. And that you must communicate (unfortunately) as if you are talking to the dumbest people. Because sometimes... what makes perfect sense to me or someone involved in race industry, will make 0 sense to others. And mistakes take place . I'll be honest... I had a few quiet meltdowns. But that's ok, because I came out of them learning some powerful lessons . Like the saying "there's no use crying over spilled milk...." there's no use crying over mistakes.
   Own them. Be humble. And move on. If it's not make or break to the event... move on. It stands as a great way to improve the next year ahead.  Mistakes make room for personal growth and event growth, quite honestly. If I don't make mistakes.... how can I know what needs to be better?

- Change is good:  I implemented a lot of change this  year. That's nearly an understatement. I changed the date. I changed the course. I changed timing companies. I changed the design of my shirts. And quite honestly, while I had several moments of doubt along the way.... those changes all resulted in good. I learned many lessons through the changes. For instance:
     Timing company: Not only did I love the timing company that came out this year, I watched God provide in amazing ways through this change. They were more costly, which means I had to have faith that the funds would come in to cover it all. I had scary moments with this, but in the end, I had nothing to worry about. God had it all covered the entire time. I just had to trust. And in the end... I loved this decision.
     Course change: Boy, did this journey teach me lessons. Lessons of confidence in myself. Lessons of how much I depend on others but really need to learn to do myself. Lessons of humility. Lessons of once again... willing to accept mistakes and grow from them. Overall, a great change. But not without some humbling moments.
     Date change: pretty much for selfish reasons, but the long term result I believe will be a good one. It was extremely challenging to do this flip, but I am so glad I did.

-People: along the journey this year, I must tell you, I learned a lot about people. I learned about myself, as well, but I learned much about others. Who can be counted on , who cannot. I learned about leadership and decisions and telling people concretely what to do instead of trying the "go around" of the people pleasing aspect I tend to implement. I learned about deep friendships and about letting go of friendships. I learned about dynamics of trust. This year taught me much along those lines. At times, the lessons were challenging, but in the end, have developed good foundations. For myself. For my event. For the future of the scholarship.  And sometimes, I learned, while asking is good and necessary, waiting to be approached can be good, too.

-Multitasking: While I am a good multitasker, I learned that there are a few things I have to do singly and not while also trying to do something else. Like giving directions out. :) My mind has to be focus on certain things and not accomplishing 10 things at times. I generally do multi tasking quite well, honestly. Give me 3 tasks... they'll all get done. But... sometimes my focus must remain on one and then moving on. Lesson learned :)

-My dad:  While my mom is often the source of my "hero" relationship in life, my dad has quietly grown into that role as well. My dad was the only one to always be there for me through this year of growth and change. He really does not understand the 5K world at all- he comes and shows up, but he doesn't understand the behind the scenes execution. That's ok. He listened. He prayed. He was always there when I called in frustration or in complete joy. My dad is pretty amazing. And while he always says "i'm not sure I can walk all that..." he comes in his worn out sneakers and blue jeans and is never the last to finish. He's much stronger than he thinks. And I am proud to have him as my dad. And to walk this journey of giving away a yearly scholarship with my dad.

-Trust and Provision: I leave this lesson for last. Not because it's the least important, but on the contrary, it was the strongest and most powerful lesson for me. Many don't understand that the core of every decision I make (should) be based on my faith. And prayer. I had many people doubting me through this year's event, that my decisions were wrong or that I couldn't/shouldn't do it. Or that i should give up. Goodness... I doubted myself many times.  But this year I learned to believe in myself in stronger ways than ever before . But more than that... I learned that when acting in faith, God always provides. ALWAYS.  And often times, He will wait until the last minute to teach me and let me know that it is all about Him and the fact that I need to lean into Him.
  Mistake? Be humble... admit it... He will take care of the details.
  I was in the red a week before the event... I was worried.... and in the end of the event- we made more this year than last year! With less sponsorship and more bills to pay.... we came out stronger than in the year past. That could only be God. Yes, I was His hands and the event planner... but He was the One orchestrating all those details I had to be patient to see unfold and know that He was the one behind the provisions.
 Need People to help? Let me tell you.... I had some amazing friends helping on the day of. Kristin was an amazing friend through it all. And on the day of. Dolly was eager to help and hands on. Julie brought a wealth of knowledge to the table and was able to be a self sufficient volunteer. Cheri... well, Cheri was a unique gift that would take too long to type out, but she came into the picture just days before the event and did ANYTHING I needed at that point. Including recruiting some people with her! It was pretty fantastic to watch unfold.
   God provided in ways I could not have asked or imagined. But then again.... that's what He always does. We just have to be willing to wait on it . And waiting is hard.
Me and Kristin

Dolly, Julie, Me, Kristin 

 I'm just saying that this year's 5K was amazing. It was so much fun. I could not have asked for more beautiful weather. The runners trickled in. I asked for 40 (to beat my number from last year.) 42 signed up. I have learned that while quantity brings the donations in, it's about quality, too.  We will be able to give another great scholarship in 2016 and I am really looking forward to the event planning of the 2016 race.... with a whole year ahead, and no doubt many more lessons to come.
     I stand in awe at the amazing things God does.
My brother, me, my dad
Evidence of a hard worker and a day well executed

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

One Year Ago

By nature, my reflective person is kicking in again today.
 One year ago today, I started a  whole new career. Little did I know what the year would hold for me.
One year ago today, I held my  hand up and was sworn in with the American flag next to me.
 One year ago today, I was not confident and very worried about a brand new journey.
One year ago today, I began a year long journey in discovering all new possibilities and dreams.

 It's difficult to capture into a blog the lessons learned over the last year and the depth of growth I have experienced. But I want to attempt to do this, because this last year has been one of the most significant in my life long journey.
 This last year, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and into new territories I never imagined possible.
  One year ago today, I began my job at the marathon office. But for me, while it's been an avenue of exploration and learning, and diving into a world of something about which I am passionate, the year's journey has been even more so about learning about myself and believing in who I am.

  The year has seen its changes, that's for sure. I was happier than I had ever felt starting the job a year ago. I felt new dreams rising in me and new possibilities at my fingertips. In leaving coffee world, I began to believe in myself in a whole new way, like i never had before. I found myself saying quite often in the coffee world, "I'm just a barsita..." and when I switched over to what was to become a career path for me, and not just a job, I found myself hungry to learn and excited to do the most menial tasks. I went from knowing very little on computers, to a growing knowledge of how to do things (mind you, this is still very much a growing experience for me... I am constantly learning how to reconfigure things and do tasks on the computer).

  I have had the opportunity to step out on my own in new ways I'd never been able to do before (i.e.- travel.) and in so doing, I have discovered things about myself which I enjoy, things that are hard to discover when in the role of mom and wife every day. (Not to say it makes me less of those roles, more to say that in stepping out on my own, it's helped me discover things that I'd never been able to learn because I have been in the role of wife/mom since age 19, and thus, never really learned things about my own self....)

 I have made new friends, met lots of crazy runners, developed relationships that were unexpected, and have had conversations that will stick with me for a lifetime.
 I have learned what office dynamics are like and how to navigate them, especially in a smaller environment.
 In coffee world, I dealt with a number of personalities, but it's different to have a short encounter than it is to have an every day, closely knit encounter with 5 others. Having an office environment is often times like a marriage relationship, because you spend as much time with those people as you do with a spouse, whether you like it or not. I have learned about trust, about love, about stress, about laughter and about letting go. Each person teaches me something about life.  Without giving names, here are a few key valuable things I have taken away from some of my close office encounters:
  - It's good to be true to who you are. Be comfortable in your skin. No matter if it's weird or socially awkward or proud or self sufficient... being who you are and loving that is important.
  - Trust. You can't trust everyone. I am by nature a very trusting person. I hate that the skepticism now sits in me a little bit, but sometimes the guard has to be up... and that's ok. It's not a bad thing. But, when trust is established, it's beautiful. And it's a gift. One that lasts.
  - Laughter is the best medicine. Being silly  has its appropriate times, but laughter heals. And it's good.
  - The value of an honest, encouraging word goes a very long way. Some conversations stand the test of time. And when said with true meaning, the depth it carries goes far deeper than the person saying it might ever know.
 - Honesty. This goes with the above statement a little bit, but honesty is so important. Even if it hurts at times. Approaching a person, whether its a hard conversation or a sincere loving one, done with honesty, has value that is often lost in this society. It's rare to find a person with whom you can always be honest. And they can in return. To find that is a gift.

  People have come and gone through my experience over the last year, but there has been lessons laced throughout that have strengthened me and pushed me to be a better me. For the first time in my adult years, I finally began to embrace this. I pushed through insecurities and into new found gifts. I have learned to depend less on others. I have discovered characteristics in me I didn't know existed, and I continue to do this.
  A few key people have played a large part in this year... RA, KA, MN.... closely knit into my every day world like never before, with the office environment and the travel experiences and the trusting conversations. People who have at times pushed me to be better by being at my side, or at times pushed me with words that were hard to hear, but necessary.  They have mentored me through this first year of my career as much as facilitating my personal growth, desiring the best for me, loving me when I was unlovable (and trust me, in an every day environment, this likely happens more often than I'd care to admit) telling me the hard words, and staying by my side, even if they did not agree with my decisions... or being my support system when difficult decisions were being made.
  Those people have listened to endless comments of me pushing through insecurities and fears, endured me talking about my race endlessly, encouraged my crazy dreams and aspirations, and helped me discover things I truly want in life... who I truly am.
 They've been proud of me and frustrated with me, but loved me all the while. They have each played a large part in what the last years growth has been.

 I love my job so much. It has had its days where I have felt insignificant or dumb, but those moments have taught me more than the ones where I felt successful. I have learned failing is ok, because through that often come the greatest successes. I have learned when to stay quiet and when to speak my mind. I have learned that what I think might be the best plan for me is not always God's plan for me.
  The last year, the one which has been full of new beginnings for me, has been a roller coaster I would ride over and over.

 I struggle to adequately capture how much I have learned and grown. But I am so thankful for each person who has played a part... and excited to see what the next year might bring.
 Some snapshots from the last year....