Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Furiously Happy Day

Back in February I read a book called Furiously Happy. If you can handle a little bit of cursing, the book puts a spectacularly funny spin on depression. I could relate to so many of the author's examples. The title is one I use often when I talk about what I want to share today.

 In my last blog, I shared how I have struggled the last few months. Well, in the midst of the struggle days, there are also furiously happy days. Because I experience the tough ones with the battle of depression, I appreciate the good days all the more so. When I do, those days make me furiously happy and I hang on to those moments with all I have. Those moments remind me I am not completely crazy and life is going to be okay. Today was one of my Furiously Happy days.

 I had the day off work because I was taking Elizabeth to The Lion King musical. We bought her these tickets as her Christmas gift, so we have been planning this for a long time. Thus, I took the day off to enjoy the time with her.
  I could have slept in and skipped my workout, but I really enjoy my TRX class/group and today was Bri's last day, and I didn't want to miss that. Plus, I knew with it being Bri's last day that Steck would have some sort of crazy workout planned. I have a love/hate relationship with those workouts, but in the end, it's always love.
 So I got up and went to class.
 Steck did not disappoint. We did a burpee insanity and it lived up to its name. I've never liked burpees, but that's probably because they are so hard. Hard is good when it comes to working out. Sometimes I just need a little motivation. I must tell you, Bri often provided that for me in class. She is ridiculously good at the exercises. She made it all look easy and Tami and I could only laugh at how graceful she made wall burpees look today. She motivates me to become stronger and better. She's a lot of fun.
   I was furiously happy I went to that class and that I got to say "goodbye" to Bri. Here's a photo of us after class, Bri is in the front, Tami is behind her, me, Steck in the hat and George, the famously happy YMCA friend I'm always glad to see.

 Then I got crazy and since I felt all motivated and had the day off, I added a 2 mile run to that. That was sort of crazy, but I felt so good when I completed.

 When that was all said and done and I enjoyed cooking breakfast alongside my son, I got ready to go run a few errands. My son joined me and he wanted to take me out to Starbucks, his treat with his hard-earned lawn mowing money. We shared great conversation and it became another furiously happy moment in my book.

 Following that, Elizabeth and I left to go to our play. We enjoyed lunch together at the Wheat Penny and had the most adult conversations. I love when we get that alone time, Mother-daughter moments that will become unforgettable memories. We enjoyed The Lion King very much. The costumes were beautiful, the dancing was incredible, and the play was well done. The commercial that used to use the tagline of" Priceless"... Lion King tickets, $57/piece; Pizza, $20. Gas, $12. The memory of being together for the day? Priceless.... Very true. The day was priceless.

  Today was my furiously happy day. I don't know what tomorrow holds. It doesn't matter what yesterday held. Today is beautiful and I will savor it .

Monday, June 27, 2016

Just Write....

One of my best friends asked me yesterday if everything was ok with me because I had not blogged for a little bit.
 The answer is yes. 
  The problem is that every time I sit to write, the words feel too vulnerable, or perhaps things that others may not want to hear. So it causes me to hesitate and leave a blank page, aka- no blog postings.
 So, tonight I will just sit and spill words onto the pages. You can pretend I am writing you a letter, if you wish. Maybe it's just a way of getting the emotions out as I process them. I am a thinker and an analyzer, always trying to understand why I feel what I do and grow from that discovery. The discoveries have been too raw lately, so it's been hard to post about them.

  But, as many writers discovered through the ages, writing to be real often times pans out to be the best works they have ever shared.

The thoughts may sound a little all over the place, but here are some of the ramblings inside my head in recent days..... 

 I am discovering that one of the best "yes" answers I have given thus far in my life is to go back to school. I have been asked by many what that is all about at age 33, especially when I have a job that I really love. The answer, quite honestly, gets a little lengthy, like many of my responses do. But, in short, when I was in high school, I always had a passion for Spanish. I picked it up pretty well and I loved using it. I had always said I was going to use that for missions, one way or another, and I would go get my degree in it. Well, my life path changed and I did not follow those desires. I was given many blessings and new passions and gifts along the way, but the enjoyment of the language never left me. 
 When I went to Colombia and was able to use it again, I knew without a single doubt, that I was supposed to pursue that path, the one I had dismissed more out of neglect than anything else. Saying yes to that journey, knowing God was asking that of me, was and is a challenge. I know many people go back to school at even older ages than what I am. However, many factors play into my pursuit. I do not always have a cheerleader fearlessly telling me to go for it; I rely on God to constantly confirm my desire. I don't always feel like doing the work, but the efforts are paying off. The path is going to be a very long traveled one, so if I dwell upon it, I am intimidated. And as with anything, the doubts do creep in. 
 But then something beautiful happens. I am reminded that yes, this is the path for me, to pursue becoming a translator. Last week I received the beautiful reminder through a phone call that came from Colombia. I was absolutely elated to hear "my" teenagers' voice on the other end.

They had one of our own teams there again and had access to a phone and they called me. I cannot tell you what that did for my heart, because it was one of those experiences that leave me at a lack for words. 
 It was also a confirmation on  a day I really needed it to keep going. 
  I got off the phone and I smiled ear to ear. And then I cried, too. In part, because my heart strings were pulled for that little village even harder once again. In part because I was humbled they called me. And in part, because it was yet again an answer to prayer. I didn't expect the answer through a phone call, but God always surprises me. 
 So, those of you who have wondered why I am going back to school, now you know. This isn't a random choice; this is a choice that was placed in my path years ago, but I am now choosing to walk in it, one step at a time.  Maybe God will ask me to put it on hold again, I don't really know. I just have learned that the best "yes" answers are the ones that call us to be obedient to His ways, and He made this one very clear to me. 

 I have wrestled through some really tough emotional days the last few months. This is also a topic really hard to discuss. It's not because I am embarrassed by the topic, it's more because it's still a taboo topic at times in society. Depression darkens my door more often that I care to admit. It steals my happy thoughts and it battles its own way to making me believe I am not good enough. Many factors play into this, and the more I analyze it, the more I recognize them. But recognition does not always mean I can conquer them. More often than not, I have to learn how to fight through them. And fight is what I do. It's a silent battle, one often unnoticed by most around me. Not because I won't talk about it, but more so because the statements people offer in return make me more frustrated. Words like "just don't think about it" or "just let it go" or even words like "you have mental issues" (duh... lol... I fight depression, which is a mental issue!) cause me to pause in my vulnerability. 
 I don't like that this is part of my story, but I will tell you this: I accept it. The verse in 2 Corinthians has come to mean a very great deal to me. It says "My grace is sufficient for you. For my strength is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ can work through me."  
   So, I shouldn't be quiet and sit on the topic quite as often as I do. Because it's totally amazing to me the victories God gives me every day, in spite of this weakness, this mental issue, that I battle. I have an amazing family. I have a wonderful job. I am healthy physically. I am growing spiritually. I am blessed with provision for all my needs. In spite of the intense struggles I face on a daily basis, I am blessed. Because HE is my strength. 
 I don't have to love the battle to acknowledge it. I don't have to love the battle to accept it. I just have to embrace the One who fights it for me, and is my strength. Some would tell me I should be more spiritual and it will go away. Others will say to just not dwell on life. There are hundreds of statements that get thrown around about the issue.  But honestly, I am at a place of accepting it and talking about it more lately. 
 It's exhausting. It's heartbreaking. It's frustrating. And it's challenging. 
But He fights it with me. And that is all I need to know and hang on to every day.

  I have re-geared myself in fitness a little bit lately. My brother and I have challenged each other to a few different things, and we are having a good time connecting over those challenges, talking about them and analyzing them. I'm still loving the TRX and the running, too, of course, but now it's the eating healthy part that's being shifted. It's amazing what a determined mindset can do. Truly it's 90% a mental battle to eat the right foods, to tell myself I can. I don't care about the scale (well, maybe a little, but really, I care about being healthy). Feeling healthy physically helps me mentally and emotionally as well. The mindset is much of the battle. I don't talk about it much really (well, except the fact that I'm putting it out here for anyone to read it!). I more just want to do it. It's not about others, it's about me. And taking care of me.

  Our family recently had a very nice vacation. I got to experience some firsts:
    Paddle boarding and kayaking. If you know me well, you know I honestly have a fear of the water. I don't swim well. So, getting on this paddle board and standing up on it and paddling into the middle of the lake was quite frightening for me. But I absolutely loved it! And every time I try new things, I may not love all of them, but I feel accomplished because I didn't give up or quit of stand back in fear. I tried it. I've come a long way in that department, and I am quite thankful for that.It was also a lot of fun because my son did it with me.

  I also got to reconnect with a very dear friend again. It'd been 11 years since we last were together. She was in our wedding. I was in hers. And we picked right up where left off, never skipping a beat. It takes a special friendship to be that way.

 So, that's a lot of random thoughts, but some blogs are just needing to be like that.

 God is good, all the time. And I will keep fighting, growing, learning and striving to be a better mom, wife and a better me every day. One day at a time. 


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Never Give Up

"Never, Never, Never give up!" -Sir Winston Churchill

 A week has passed since the 5th annual Linda A. Ferguson memorial 5K took place. And it's been a whirlwind week, but as I sit on a beautiful deck with a cup of coffee in hand, watching gentle ripples across the lake, my thoughts on the event are collected and I wanted to take a few minutes to share, as I always do post-event.

 I am probably unique from most race directors in that I will share with you my thoughts and emotions in regards to my event. So, bear with me as I spill my heart on the canvas of this screen for a moment.

 If you are unfamiliar with the event, I became the co-founder of it in 2011 after the passing of my mom. It was a way to keep her memory alive a little bit, to keep her legacy of love living through students who could go out and carry light to cancer patients for years to come. The scholarship became a tangible way we could carry on mom's heart. The event holds her name, as does the scholarship, but it's never really been about my mom, per say. The event is meant to be a means to the continuation of a yearly scholarship for students who need help financially, who ultimately have the goal of helping cancer patients for years and years to come.

 As with any event, bumps occur and problems need worked out. Each year I have faced something. Honestly, it would not be an event if there were no problems in the mix of it all. But this year, the 2016 event, I had a fair share of difficulties. Committed members to helping dropped out on me. Dollars fell through. And competition in the world of 5K's was fierce. In the world of running, the market is becoming saturated and our event was up against at least 7 others in the area (that I was aware of). Needless to say, to sum it up, I was more than frustrated and contemplating giving up the event at the completion of this year's.

As any director would do, and as my mentor taught me, I plugged through the difficulties and aimed to make it the best event that could possibly take place, given the circumstances. I had to make decisions that were tough, but for the benefit of the event, which in essence, was to benefit the scholarship. I was ready to let go of it, if that is what God wanted me to do. But I was going to go out with all I had. I do not quit. It's not in me. I have learned to let go, but there is a difference between letting go and quitting. I have gained an appreciation for the definition of letting go.

 But God did something amazing. Through prayer and humility and an all out seeking Him, He showed up in crazy ways I did not expect.
 In the last week before the event, participation doubled.
    Volunteers came out of the woodwork.
       And a few very good friends-Kevin, Hannah, Cheri, and Lori- stepped up to help in enormous ways.

The morning was beautiful, even if a few raindrops fell. And the 5K was full of surprises for me.
My friends Doug and Kristen surprised me and showed up at the start line... from FLORIDA!  I could not believe that.
  My other friends Rob and Kristin showed up, with hugs and words of encouragement (and some good mentoring, too.)
     Old customers of mine came to support the event.
And much of the nursing department from Cedarville University walked or ran with smiles and CU nursing shirts.
The list goes on, really, but the point is, I felt the love. I felt encouraged. And I embraced the saying of "Never, Never, Never Give Up!"

 As the event kicked off, it held some kinks, but nothing life-shattering, and all experiences which certainly brought to light new learning moments. And thoughts of how to make next year's event a better success. Yes... next year's event. In light of all that happened in the last 2 weeks leading up to the 5K, we will come back in 2017. I am excited to see how the year might reshape the event to grow and be better. I have ideas brewing that could unfold into beautiful results. In the meantime, in memory of my mom, we are able to continue giving to students in need who will in turn make a difference in the lives of countless cancer patients.

 Letting go and Giving up are two very different things. This year, among many lessons, one which is dominant through this event and life in general for me is
 "Never, Never, Never Give Up!"

    You just never know how God is going to show up.  I should really stop being surprised by how He works, but I am constantly amazed. And, not unlike any of the years prior, He taught me much about faith and about friendship. He humbled me. I learned to let go a little more and let Him have the reigns. And I was reminded of the fighter that lives in me. The 5K is not about me at all. I just happen to get to be the hands and feet of the behind the scenes planning of it.
 So, as we move forward into the next year, we will press on and not give up. If God wants me to let go of it, He will show me. But for now, we get to bless another student in the 2016-17 school year.
   Never give up! You never know what might be in store. There may be tears and frustrations and times you question, but never give up.  One day it might be time to let go, but today is not that day.
  Keep on keeping on. One day at at time.

Ed Supplee, first place winner coming through the finish line!

The Cedarville University Nursing Dept. 

Runners Warming Up

The Start Line

Surprise! Doug and Kristen, forever friends, Came to run!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What I learned in May

June 2! The days on the calendar are passing quickly. I cannot believe how time just marches on. The kids are growing, I am learning, and life moves faster and faster, no matter how much I try to slow down.
 I love these monthly posts of "what I learned" each month. I skipped April, so I needed to take time to write about May. It forces me to slow down and recapture life a little.

1. I remember more Algebra than I thought!
    - I began my schooling again in May. This has been a lifetime goal, which I once completely disregarded but have rediscovered and am finally pursuing. One class is Algebra 1. I have never been good at math, but I am remembering it a little better than I thought I might. I am rusty, no doubt, but it's not quite as hateful as I thought it might be. The English class, on the other hand, is all writing! I love it, but I have not been critiqued for a very long time on my writing, so this is a very good experience for me.

 2. I do not like to run in hail, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!
   - So the Cleveland race, as I wrote about it in mid- May, was not at all what I expected it to be. I did not anticipate a good finish time, or even a memorable race. However, the snow, hail, rain, sleet and wind that I faced in that race has left a lifetime memory for me. I left that race numb, but completely  happy. I felt like running through all of that mess left me with a significant lesson that I can do it! I can run faster than I think. I can push through walls. I can keep going. And no matter who or what obstacle may be in my way- whether it's running or life's path- I can do it. yes, it'll be a struggle. But I can do it. I loved that race simply because of the absolutely ridiculous weather.

3. I love TRX!
   - I am now 2 months into this class. I still am really bad at it,  the worst in the class really. And I know it. But it doesn't stop me. I am growing stronger. Even if I cannot see it, I can feel it. And as corny as this may seem to many, accomplishing new workouts in the class is also strengthening me emotionally. It's much like running- determination and mind come down to a lot of it. For sure I am experiencing moments in this class that I feel completely stupid, but all in all, it's growing me- physically, yes, which is a large part of the goal. But little may the others know it, it's also strengthening me inwardly as a person and spiritually. God does that....when I let Him. Eventually I may be as good as the others in the class, but it's not really a comparison game. It's an individual game, with cheerleaders next to me. I love those people already!

If ONLY I looked this good doing TRX. One day.... I am determined. But today is not yet that day. 

 4. I have a Freshman in high school now!
   - What is happening!?! My daughter is now moving on to high school. I am determined to savor moments with her. In April, we went to a mother/daughter tea, and had a very enjoyable time together. She's growing up so fast.

 5. New Bands:
    - So, I am super bad at knowing the current....or older... bands. Pretty much I don't know bands at all. Well, It has become a game almost now in the office to ask me what band is playing. I next -to -never know! But I am learning little by little. I got totally schooled on Prince after he died. And I have learned about a band called Crosby, Stills, Nash,  and Young. (Don't ask me to tell you their songs.... ) It's interesting to me to learn all of these, though. Those are just a couple of examples. I enjoy culture.

6. Tattoos:
  - OK, I actually got this in April, but since I didn't write in April what I learned, I am sharing it now. I suppose I will embrace the idea that I really like tattoos. For me, they tell a part of my story. I see them and remember and they serve as a visual for what God has done and is doing in my life. We actually scheduled the tattoos back in October, but our guy was that booked up. So, I had an idea at that time what I wanted, but as time went along, it became very clear to me what I needed to remember:

 So, the palm tree represents different areas of life for me. One, I love the tropics. My heart beats happier there. and my years lived in the tropics were some of my best. So it reminds me of a happy place. But that being said, did you know that a palm tree is made to bend in storms, and not break? It's rare that they break (it happens, but not too often.) They also represent triumph. In the Bible, the people waved palm fronds when Jesus came in on the donkey. In essence, as I see that, I remember to be strengthened through my storms. To bend but not break. To rejoice in my victories and come out stronger. For a girl who battles depression, this is something important to hold on to.
  The word on the tattoo is Creeré. I love speaking Spanish (that is what I am aiming to get my degree in now). This word is placed in the tattoo for a variety of reasons. One, it means "I will believe" which is significant. Two, it blends my love of Spanish. and Three, I wrote a blog on it here, which will spare me from writing it all over again. But Colombia was a very important marker in time for me and I don't want to forget it.
 So, that is what my tattoo means.

     May flew by in the blink of an eye. But... I have no doubt June has good things to bring my way. One day at a time.