Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Merry Merry

So this is Christmas
Festive, bustling, sparkling, busy Christmas.

And what have you done?
I hope you have found joy, peace, and merriment during this special season. Phone calls, face time, hugs, prayers- reaching out to the ones who mean the most to you any way you can.

Another year over
I hope you have laughed, stretched, grown, played, and acheived in the last 12 months. I hope there were enough successes to give you confidence and enough misses to keep you motivated in the year ahead.

And a new one just begun
Filled with new possibilities, new achievements waiting to be realized, and whole bunch of unknowns you can't even begin to anticipate. Embrace them, learn from them, grow, and help people along the way.

And so this is Christmas
So far from the last December 25th in so many ways, and yet it seems to have snuck up on us while we were so busy living.

I hope you have fun
May there be surprises, warmth, happy memories, and joy in your holiday. Whether it is beautiful music at midnight mass, the glow of candles on your mantle, something you never expected to find in your stocking, or a story that had almost slipped your mind until someone brought it up, I hope your holiday gives you many occasions to smile wide.

The near and the dear one
Side by side or miles apart, the ones we love most are always close at heart. Hug the ones you can, love the ones you can't, and hug someone else just for good measure.

The old and the young
You can't stop time- whether we feel a year older or not, there is solid proof that time marches on and the circle of life never ends. We celebrate this year with gaping holes where we lost loved ones once stood, dimming lights where shining figures are undeniably weaker than they were just a year ago. But cannot feel wholly consumed by those losses, because we turn our heads and there is new life- new partners, new babies, new presence that wasn't there this time last year. They don't fill the same spaces or make up for the ones we miss, but they are a very present, very real reminder in this season of hope that God's plan is not short-sighted.

A very Merry Christmas
No matter what day or time your celebration happens, no matter if you're with co-workers, family, or pets, remember why we celebrate, how much we have to be thankful for, and how powerful one kind gesture to another human being can be.

And a Happy New Year
In addition to a larger bank account and a smaller pants size, I hope 2014 brings you new friends, new challenges, new faith, and new joy.

Let's Hope it's a good one
We know in our hearts that the newest iproduct, next promotion, or latest Lululemon tights aren't the silver bullets that will suddenly make us organized, respected, and fit. If Santa was generous enough to put those things under our trees, let us be thankful enough to make honest, whole-hearted efforts to emulate we want to see in our lives.

Without any fear




















Wishing you and your loved ones peace, happiness, good health, and good cheer
today, tomorrow, and all of next year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Balsam, Sugar, and Twinkly Lights

Chances are, you've met me/seen my Facebook feed, and are at least mildly aware of my passion for Christmas. I love it. In the giddy “Look at all the lights!” way. I genuinely think a Christmas tree is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I stick my head in our tree daily to inhale its wonderfulness. I love the stories, the memories, and the sentiments that are shared at the holidays. Yes, there is a tendency for everything to get a little nutty with holiday parties all around, Christmas lists that start in October and don’t seem to get any shorter, and the inevitable holiday travel plans. But there is also this understanding that it is the holidays. 


Everyone is open to helping out. Causes and people that go unacknowledged year round are adopted, appreciated, celebrated. No matter what holiday we celebrate, we can all share a common knowledge of the same limited playlist of holiday songs that play on repeat for the month of December, and I’m not sure if there is a soul out there who doesn't appreciate a good frosted sugar cookie.

Christmas time is special because it brings all our emotions to the surface. 
The excitement: What surprises are in store for me? Our inner 6 year-olds rejoice.
The anxiety: My father is impossible to shop for. I don't want to waste money, but I can't show up empty-handed.
The joy: Cards and letters from friends we rarely see. Holiday parties and family gatherings, reuniting and reminiscing about the past year.

The frustration: If I spend 30 more seconds looking for a parking spot, I am going to park this thing on the curb and let Rudolph worry about my bumper. 




The sugar. I don't care who you are. You like Christmas cookies. And Christmas treats. 
Your pants. Harsh reminder that Christmas cookies are not grapes. 

The warm fuzzies: Hanging ornaments from when you were growing up, remembering when a particular nutcracker was received or who used to love that crooked tree topper. 




The chills: Hearing Charlie Brown and his friends sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Turning off your lights and admiring the glow of your Christmas tree. 

The missing: Missing people. Of course we miss our favorite people more at the holidays- they're supposed to be there. You're supposed to spend your holidays with the people you love the most. It feels mixed-up, out of order, and so disappointing when you realize they aren't there.

The awe: Not only for your redneck neighbor who spends more on their December power bill than they do on a year's worth of chicken, but for the speed with which we have arrived back at the holidays. How much we've done in a year, how much has changed, how quickly we've run out of time to do all those things we were going to do this year.

I've got it all. I've been giving goofy grins to our Fraser fir for weeks. I've baked (we can wait another 12 months for that to happen again), hosted friends for cookies, mailed out dozens of cards, cried for a solid 4 hours when one more forgotten pin number put me over the edge. I have wrapped gifts, attended work holiday parties, given passing thought to all the exercise I will do next year, and hung stockings with care. Even through my sugar haze, as I flow from excited to anxious to happy to weepy to sleepy, I haven't lost sight of what makes me most happy, in December and the rest of the year. My people. People that I make plans to see, people I'm delighted to run into, and people I had no idea I would ever end up enjoying. Sometimes (well, this time of year) I just want to wrap them up in Christmas lights, put a bow on their heads, and let them feel the lovely warmth of the holiday spirit. 

I know that's weird. But it's how I feel.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Listy McFit-it-in

I’m a planner. I make lists and plans and have so many ideas about all of the things I want to accomplish. I’m of the opinion that I do not have as much time as I’d like to accomplish all of these things, so my best chance is to maximize every single day and get as much done as possible. It’s hard for me to rest when I know the ‘to do’ list looming just around the corner (specifically, in the kitchen sink). It’s hard to feel calm and in the moment when I know that about 482,000 moments from now (that’s like 5 days, right?) our accountant is going to need to see some very specific documentation.


I firmly believe that yes, I can work, workout, go to church, see friends, keep a neat (clean?) house, eat real food that isn’t bad for me, be there for my family, spend time with friends, devote time to the organizations that mean something to me, be involved, have quality down time, and a reasonable amount of sleep all in the same week. Sometimes that’s pushing it. But if I’m smart, I make my lists, look at my calendar, I can do things like run at 5:30 am. Bake cookies a week ahead and freeze them. Go to the post office during lunch. Update QuickBooks during a Christmas special. Count hard boiled eggs and green smoothies as real food. Deem a ponytail acceptable for work and devote am shower time to a round of laundry and last night’s dishes. Errands/house chores with family count as quality time.

If I can make time for the things I need get to do, I can certainly find time for the thing I want to do. Despite all the lovely articles, advice, and highly scientific evidence about the importance of taking care of yourself and making yourself happy first, the rest of the world does not always seem to be of the same mindset. Everyone, no matter how giving, self-less, compassionate, or wonderful, cares about their own agenda. My boss wants my work done. Done well and done early, even better if I did a little extra for good measure. The committee I sit on wants emails answered, great ideas, and passionate energy to recruit people, speakers, and sponsorship. God wants me to do good and be grateful- to care for my loved ones, my neighbors, and my community. My pants want me to cut back on the toast and work lunches. My dentist wants me to cut back on the Swedish fish. Buster wants to be fed and have access to squirrels, preferably in an area where he does not have to get his paws wet. Dominion and American Express want me to pay on time. Or late, with a fee.

I don’t want to use the things that are a given as excuses to why I can’t accomplish the things I want for my life. I suspect it only gets harder when there are actual children (as opposed to four-legged children) needing to be watched/fed/raised. If I don’t figure out balancing my responsibilities with my aspirations now, I don’t like my odds later on.


So if the universe could just get on board, people could adapt to my schedule (Post Office hours later than 5pm? 10 hour work days to give us 3 day weekends every week? DO THINGS WHEN YOU SAY YOU’RE GOING TO DO THEM) that would be great. Until then, I’m asking Santa for lots of yoga to work on my flexibility and appreciation for being in the moment and being at peace with the world around me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oops, I did it Again

So remember how it was kind of a big deal for us to host Thanksgiving last month? I may or may not (I did) declare that we must have an open house over the holidays. Calendars were consulted, an evite was sent out, and we’re having a Christmas cookie exchange this week. Less than two weeks after our last clean the house and arrange the furniture to accommodate as many people as possible flurry. I anticipate this being less dramatic. I mean, no one needs a fork for cookies and there’s no 20-lb turkey to fool with. Right? Our biggest conundrum, other than me learning the proper way to serve eggnog (Is it supposed to stay chilled the whole time? Keep it in the fridge? Spike it? Are there really eggs in there?) is how we can display the electric trains in a way that they are safe from harm’s way.

I'd like to say that my primary concern with setting them up on the floor was the number of guests we’ll have and the fact that we will have some small children around, but the reality of the situation is that I am a complete klutz. Like, the person who trips over a large electric box 8 times before declaring it must be moved. (Fact.) Those of you who have never experienced life with a lover of antiques/precious things may not fully appreciate the level of reverence with which said items are to be treated. Clumsiness- unintentional though it may be- is not reverent and does not indicate full appreciation for the glory of these carefully-crafted, hard to replace, old enough that it’s considered ‘normal’ for them to spark while they’re running pieces of history.

Maybe one day we’ll live in a place where an entire room can be devoted to “things that shall not be touched”. I will feel safer, knowing that there is a designated area into which I do not step foot, dramatically reducing the likelihood of me stepping on/bumping into/leaving water marks on these delicate creatures. We will wind the (really cool) train tracks around the legs of furniture crafted before my grandparents were old enough to stand and I will watch from the doorway, feeling happy and safe.

We do not live in that place today. Hence, our nearly as good as giving it its own room solution of setting up the trains on the dining room table. Let’s be real, we’ve eaten off a coffee table many times. Let’s be more real, I’m perfectly content to eat standing up in the kitchen. (My mother hangs her head.) The new arrangement puts the couch in the dining room, which is a disastrous decorating debacle. (Pale gray couch. Red & tan rug. Red/blue/tan curtains. Black and white dog who feels the world is finally as it should be- his throne perfectly placed below the window, allowing him to monitor all backyard squirrel activity. We have a comical collection of furniture in the bedroom that includes two very clashing dressers, one kitchen table, one very old drop-leaf table, a very old cabinet (plantation desk?), and a bed so high off the ground Buster needs a running start. (I need a step-ladder and learned the hilariously awkward way that I cannot, in fact, ‘jump into bed’.)

So when you come over, please know that I do not think any of these combinations “go together”, I fully acknowledge the impracticality of an electric train around the perimeter of your dining room table. But it’s Christmas folks. Indulge me.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#Thankful

Success! Thanksgiving for fourteen cooked, served, and parceled out as leftovers. We didn’t run out of forks, Seth did a fantastic job with the turkey, and his mom showed up in plenty of time to assist with the gravy. All lumps were avoided. It was a heart full kind of weekend. We had family and friends around the table. Everyone brought something, everyone had stories to share. My wonderful brothers did just about every dish that came through the kitchen, and there were no brussel sprouts left after dinner.
I get a little shy when people are in front of me, so there was no grand invocation of thanks before our meal. If I had, here’s what I would have said THANK YOU for:

Thank you for family, for friends, and a place to call home.
Thank you for warmth, health, and the strength to get through hard things.
Thank you for the people who lift us up every day, the people who make us laugh, and the people who bring us joy in so many ways.
Thank you for good food, good friends, and the good table which brings them together.
Thank you for jobs and independence.
Thank you for the sun that brightens our days and the pets that brighten our lives.
Thank you for the many happy memories of loved ones present and parted.
We cherish times like these holidays when we all come together to remember, reminisce, and reflect.
Thank you for the wonderful people at this table, in my life, and in my heart.

I said it all in my head a few times. Out loud, I just told everyone to dig in. And they did. Now I have a confounding amount of leftover gravy, mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes in my fridge. I know Pinterest is full of ideas for all that stuff, but I’m over it. I just want to move on and reclaim that space in my fridge. Is that wrong?


This is Buster, exhausted from the demands of being cute and vigilant for any dropped food all day long. We picked up a Christmas toy for him while we were out shopping- apparently he’s on board with the whole “Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving” thing because he scouted it out immediately and there was nothing we could do but watch him demolish that little Christmas fox. We tucked him up like this as a joke- he hadn’t moved an hour later.

I doubt that picture moves any of your hearts the way it moves mine, but I am so crazy about that goofy little dog. I may have taken adavantage of a little Cyber Monday action to order him a sweater. He gets cold. He looks great in red. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gobble-dy Cluck


It started with a table. We have a beautiful table. Old. Really old. Long, wide, big planks, beautifully restored. Surrounded by some lovely Windsor chairs.

After a few years of living in small apartments, finding creative ways to pack everything I need in as little space as possible, I may have gotten carried away. We have a dining room. (I had a counter in my last apartment.) We have a driveway and a deck and a yard and a second bathroom. The ultimate luxury on a busy morning.

I may have gotten a little overconfident as we arranged furniture and realized we needed (still need) to do some stocking up in the curtains/rug department. I started saying things like “We should have people over for dinner.” And “Let’s have a cookout.” Drunk on something- (Fresh air from our backyard? Silver polish fumes? The glory of being able to walk more than 3 steps without hitting a wall?) I declared “We should host Thanksgiving. Let’s having Thanksgiving here.” And that’s how it happened.

All summer, all through September I kept telling people, inviting people. At some point in October, about the time they start stocking the Christmas section at Target, I started to get a little uncomfortable. I only have 8 dinner plates. I don’t own a tablecloth. Or a gravy boat. Or an ironing board. I have never roasted a whole chicken much less a turkey. (I mean, why would you? Rotisserie chickens are $6 already cooked and they are so juicy!) I haven’t made biscuits lately, but I have vivid memories of one failed biscuit attempt in which something (baking soda? Baking powder?) was forgotten and I baked some lovely golden crackers. It’s not that I don’t like to cook or want to cook, I’m just happy to let those more competent, capable, and possessing the correct equipment to do so.

But, here we are. It’s Sunday Tuesday. The yard is raked (give that 24 hours and you’ll never be able to tell it happened.) The bathrooms have been cleaned, the house dusted, and there’s 20 pounds of poultry thawing in the fridge. I’ve borrowed plates and tablecloths and napkins from my mother. Now I just need an ironing board and a turkey baster and we're in business.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Recap

This race was different from the other races I’ve done. It was different because I was trying to race it. The goal wasn't Just finish and have fun this time. I was excited because that was exactly why I wanted to be a part of this team. I wanted to be challenged and aim for goals I would never push myself to on my own. 

I missed my goal. By a lot. From the moment I saw the goal I knew it was aggressive. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I was nervous. I was nervous for about 11.5 miles. I didn't have any major cramps or walls or stomach issues, but my legs weren't sold on the pace. By 11.5, I was just pumping towards the finish line. I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal and I focused solely on breezing down 5th street to the celebration where I got to stop moving. I looked at my watch constantly, checking my pace.

I could watch marathoners and read their stories/splits/workouts for days on end. I don’t know what it is about people who can run long distances at crazy fast speeds, but it just impresses the heck out of me. The thing that really intrigues me is What’s going on in their head? For me to run a consistent, aggressive pace, I need strongly prefer someone dogging me. A speed workout with a constant view of your coach with a stopwatch is one thing. Miles of road with the opportunity for your mind to drift and your pace to slide are another. Yes, it’s physically hard to maintain that pace for 13 miles, but my mind struggled to focus too. I shift into autopilot, following people, taking in sights, mentally counting dinner plates for Thanksgiving dinner. And suddenly, I glance down at my watch and my that mile was 45 seconds off pace. How in the heck do people focus for 13.1 miles, never mind 26.2?

Conclusion? I like to run. I haven’t made up my mind about racing yet. Yes, I want to run races and I want to run them faster each time. I want 8 min miles to feel comfortably hard, and I want to be able to do them without laser focus on my watch. I want to be able to do them relaxed, to enjoy the sights and crowds, to run with friends. I've never actually run a race with someone. Like, start to finish or even most of the race. I would really like to try that one day, but it's a little hard to convince the fast ones to take a race at your pace, and even harder to convince first-timers that this will be FUN.  

I will keep running. I will do more halfs, hopefully more fulls. There are more times to hit, more goals to achieve. Not just yet, but soon. A week after my race, it is freakin freezing and solidly in tights and mittens to run weather. The stiffness has left my lower body (took a few days) and almost all of the skin under my arms has grown back. I have thoroughly enjoyed hitting the snooze button for 40 minutes each morning, luxuriating in the warmth under my covers. I have run a little, gone to a few spin classes, and raked a rediculous amount of leaves the past two weekends.

I'm not registered for any races yet, but I'm not aimlessly floundering with no challenge in sight. This week, we host Thanksgiving and this girl has never cooked a turkey. (Or gravy.) Game on.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Snapshot

I'll give you the race day play by play soon. For now, this is all you really need to know.

 This is my team. Minus the coaches, minus one very spirited Lulu luminary. This picture captures it so well- the color, the smiles, the warmth. Calm and quiet (Justin), happy to be standing because he knows he couldn't stand back up (Richard). Genuinely interested and engaged in conversation (Sheri), politely smiling while privately thinking yogis are much more sane than runners (Nat), attempting to get us all to do the same thing at the same time and insisting on the importance of pictures (Theresa), (I think Molly is raising the roof?), Sanely choosing to not over-complicate things and just smile (Emma), openly expressing distaste for photo ops (me).

What you don't see is the prom-style line of coaches/significant others with camera phones, all instructing us to smile at the same time. What you might see is a level of comfort that comes from all feeling the same discomforts together. You can't see the tight hamstrings, the achy feet, or the missing skin (because it's missing! It's gone! Not there! Ahhh!!) What I see is a group that I'm seriously thankful to have spent 15ish weeks training with. We all did it. We ran the race, we pushed our comfort zones, we PR'd.

I can't remember what movie it's from, but I've always liked this one:
Beginning are usually scary, endings are sad, but it's what in the middle that really matters.


We met in August, not sure what to expect, not sure who our teammates were, if we were going to get along, what it was going to be like to be coached by Bob and Ruthie. Now, staring down the barrel of Thanksgiving, (I think) we're all feeling twinges of withdrawal, marveling that we actually aren't going to see each other at the track tomorrow night.

But it's everything in the middle- Theresa rallying us for pictures after every group run, Ruthie standing in the middle of a hill making traffic go around us, Richard making peace with yoga... that matters. The PRs and the victories from Saturday are pretty sweet too.

And if we get to feeling a little blue that it's "over", we can take comfort in the fact that what happens on Facebook, follows you around forever. ;)

#lemondragonsforlife

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Worry

I worry a lot.

I worry that I've forgotten something. That I didn't complete the key paperwork and will miss a deadline.

I worry that I will eat the wrong thing, drink too little, drink too much, and my digestive system will rebel mid-race.

I worry that I will push too hard in the first half, believing I can hold a pace for 13 miles, and will smack into a solid, soul-crushing wall in the second half.

I worry when the woman on TV says left-overs are only safe 3-4 days after they were cooked.

I worry when Seth works through the night. By himself. With heavy machinery.

I worry that without a race or challenge on the books, I will gain weight, lost fitness, and have to buy larger jeans while my muscles atrophy from days of sitting in front of a computer.

All this worry is what wears me out, makes me long for a nap and a pillow over my  head to drown out my thoughts.


There are all kinds of clever sayings about how worry is like a rocking chair (gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere) and how if you worry about the worst and it comes to pass, then you've lived it twice. These are nice sentiments to keep in your back pocket when you need to soothe a friend or give yourself a quick pep talk, but they don't offer any real solutions. "Don't worry." has got to be the most infuriating direction anyone can give.

Sure. I'll just stop worrying. Thank you for coming along with that insightful, well-thought out bit of guidance. I wish I had thought of that. Poof. I'm not worrying anymore.

I know there are things I can do that make me feel better, that help me worry less. I have allowed my schedule to become an excuse and stopped going to church in recent months. I miss that quiet time, that weekly reassurance that there is someone larger, older, wiser who has already done all of my worrying for me.

When I was still teaching, I was given a few childrens books based on bible passages and they give me infinite comfort. You may not like them, you may not agree with me, but I love them.

One of them is based on a passage from Matthew. To paraphrase it's message: Do not worry about your life. Look at the birds of the air. See how the lilies of the field grow.



At first it struck me as a little simple and fanciful. It is a simple reminder, but simple because it's true. I have everything I need. Birds need food, air, and a place to rest. I have that. Flowers need water, sun, and place to put down roots. Check, Check, Check. And I have so much more than that.

I don't want to worry about this race. I know in my head that I have done the work and followed the plan. I know that this aggressive goal is something my coaches believe I can do- they have delivered it with such forceful insistence that it is something I'm capable of. (I 50% believe them that they got it from a calculator based on my workouts, and 50% believe it's a jedi mind trick to see if I have one of those major "mind of matter" moments where they tell I can do something that's actually outside of the reasonable realm, but if they can convince me, it'll validate all those The body acheives what the mind believes. memes out there.)

Either way, I will wake up tomorrow morning, delight in a beautiful day in a city I am so happy to call home, and I will run. I will celebrate with my friends, I will smile at the wonderful people who come to cheer, and I will be thankful.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taper Talk. (Not Really)

Less than 48 hours to go time. There’s a lot I could say about this week.

I could talk about taper tantrums (There may have been some tears, restless nights, and general crankiness. I may have eaten pizza more than once this week. I may be slowly realizing that beans are not the ideal source for carbo loading.)

I could talk about baffling, unfortunate events this week. (My turn signal is possessed and refuses to stay in the neutral position. Constantly signaling right-hand turns is embarrassing. Our 7 year old dog who has never had issues, decided to mark the couch as his territory.)

I could talk about nerves. The goal time and the pace staring at me from the bathroom mirror. Race pace. I’ve never raced before. Woo-sah….

I could let my clothes do the talking (You’ve seen this commercial, right?)
I’m a go getter. I go and get it. And I bring it back. Possibly the best lines ever delivered in a clothing commercial.
What do my clothes say about me?
I try.
I know there’s style out there, but I didn’t actually look in the mirror before I left the house.
Beats a bathrobe.

I could talk about my extreme disagreement with architects and their insistence on positioning toilets directly under the window, against the exterior wall. Cold toilet seats are cruel, if not unusual, punishment. We live in a world where there are dog strollers and cars that park for you. Is a heated toilet seat so much to ask?

But, I’d rather not talk. Somehow it is Thursday night and the weekend is shaping up to be as busy as the week leading up to it. I’d rather just laugh for a few minutes.

Enjoy some laughs. Courtesy of Stefon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Talk About It. (Some More)

So I like to talk about things. Except when I’m mad or my feelings are hurt. In that situation, you better prepare for a silent treatment like you’ve never felt before. Passive aggression at it’s finest.

Today’s topics. Discuss amongst yourselves.


Which reminds me, why has SNL gotten so terribly unfunny? Do people like Sheri O’Teri, Kris Farley, and Mike Myers just not exist anymore? Think the fact that we use computers and smart phones pretty much from birth has depleted our ability to interact and be funny?

This morning in Richmond, it rained from approximately 5:40 am to 6:50 am. My run, the only 50 consecutive minutes of the day I was outdoors, lasted from 5:34 am to 6:28. Why? Why?

People who have phone conversations in public bathrooms. Yes, I seriously question this at least 3 times each week. It’s that moment when I hesitate to flush the toilet because I’m afraid of interrupting that always gets me. I mean, seriously. Is the person on the other end just completely ok with it?

Makeup. It’s a love/hate thing. I love that when I wake up to dark circles, red marks, and wrinkles (I’m ageing!) I have tools at hand to make some of these things less noticeable. I lack true talent and patient in this department, but I have enough good girlfriends who have at least taught me which spackle to buy and which mascara helps draw attention away from the pronounced lack of skill in applying concealer/eyeliner/fancy makeup products I don’t own. (PS- Why doesn’t spell check recognize the word ‘concealer’? We’ve added twerking to the dictionary, but standard computer software hasn’t caught up on this not-so-recent, essential woman product?) The hate part is the time it takes every. Single. Day. So repetitive. Always the same. I sometimes think about all the extra sleep I’d get in a year if I eliminated the 7-13 minutes it takes me to apply makeup. Then I catch sight of myself without mascara and hop to it.

Cars. Deeply, deeply unsatisfying use of money. I mean, is there anything more demoralizing than realizing you absolutely cannot wait any longer to replace the tires on your car and that it takes you 9 full days of work to earn that much money? Takes a little piece of my soul every time.

How do parents do this? At least once a week (typically Thursday, because that’s when we have yoga, which ends at 7:30, which puts me home at 7:47, 13 minutes before I (try very hard to) leave the house for work.) I screech into work with my ½ dozen bags of essentials, feeling flustered, and wondering what I can possibly have done with the 4 hours since I got out of bed. I have gotten progressively slower about being able to get out of the house in the morning and I’m mystified as to why. Perhaps it’s the addition of wrinkles to my face that call for more makeup time (see above), maybe it’s the affection I’ve developed for the Today show as I’ve matured. I don’t want to point towards my disinclination to get out of my bathrobe and put on actual clothes, because that sounds lazy. Ok, so maybe it’s not so mysterious. All I know is, I have very clear memories of snoozing in the top bunk of my college dorm room and my friend standing in the doorway, using her loud mom voice: “Leigh, it’s 7:53. We have to leave NOW.” Skipped the ladder, got some pants on- ready for action. Bio class across campus by 8am. Heaven help me (and everyone around me) when I have children to add to that morning routine.

Good talk. I feel better.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sustenance and Spice and (almost) everything nice.

They say variety is the spice of life. If that's true, you can color me caliente. You'll find variety pretty much everywhere except my wardrobe. (2 pairs of running shorts, 3 pairs of work shoes, and 1 striped sweater that finds its way onto my body pretty much daily.)

I love variety- I crave it. I don’t want a big plate of my favorite food, I want 4 little plates of 4 different foods. I am happiest when I have four different beverage options in the fridge. Some of my favorite days are the ones that start with a group run, proceed to work, then wrap with a HYPE meeting or Chamber event. I love the variety of groups because it allows me to be the different parts of myself.

Process manager, project manager, volunteer coordinator, trainer. Runner, yogi, Groupon workout deal stalker. Went to school to be a teacher, employed by corporate America, supporting small business by doing the books and marketing. I am a mentee, committee chair, and wannabe community activist. In some groups I am opinionated, sarcastic, and outspoken. With other groups I listen, observe, and contribute little.

Some days, when I list it all out (because who doesn’t love a good list?) I feel slightly bemused as to how I got to this place where harvesting collard greens, VP panel discussions, learning QuickBooks, and 400 meter repeats all happen in the same week. But recently I have come to appreciate the variety that has gradually infiltrated my whole life. There are still days when I walk into work with 4 different beverages, but now I can point to 4 different “me’s” to go along with all those beverages. (Ok, so it isn’t a direct correlation, but you get my drift.) After a morning of being personable and engaging and collaborating with people, I sometimes welcome the monotony of transferring data from spreadsheets to story cards. The tedium of collecting 34 documents from 17 people is soothed by the opportunity to work with a great nonprofit that’s teaching me my strengths when it comes to minor construction. (Measuring and holding whatever is being cut/drilled steady.) When I’m feeling overwhelmed by making sure all the right agencies have been paid and the house is properly maintained, I can log into my Training Peaks account and follow a simple command. No thinking or decision making required, just do what it says.

When I think about the ways all my different roles and circles challenge me to tap into different aspects of my personalities, develop different skills, and maybe learn to work through certain tendencies, I start to think that, for me, variety is actually sustenance. It feeds my soul, makes me grow, and sustains me. Yes it's tasty. Yes it keeps the flavors new and interesting. Variety also keeps me going, keeps me excited about the new opportunities ahead, the possibilities in every new person I meet, and the element of surprise, wondering how this week/project/group is going to be different, how they are going to change me.

I am thankful for the variety in my activities, in my friends, in the people I talk to. I am thankful for the diversity of thought, the knowledge of different trails, and the chance to uncover a 'new to me' idea. More than anything, I am appreciative to realize that just because one group of people knows you as one thing, just because you’ve been a certain way your whole life, is no reason you can’t wake up tomorrow and be something completely different to a whole new group of people.

Variety is my sustenance and my spice, and yes- it always comes back to food.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Status Update. Also- I'm extremely long-winded.

I have started 4 different posts this week. Finishing them feels daunting, so I am going to skirt the issue and give you something much lazier: a post in Facebook updates.

Yes I know, Facebook is the epitome of what is wrong with our society. We don’t feel the need to pick up the phone and call people anymore because we know what’s going on in their life from Facebook. We see who they’ve married, where they’re hanging out, and probably know a thing or two about what races they run/animals they hunt/Sunday night TV shows they’re obsessed with. Facebook is the root cause of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) phenomenon, first cousin to “Everyone is having more fun/happier/healthier/better off than I am” syndrome. Facebook timelines aren’t real life, they’re highlight reels. With the exception of your highly-opinionated college classmates who feel obligated to make a public service announcement about the decline of society’s intelligence/manners/taste on a regular basis, most people post their high points. Weddings. Reunions with friends. Nights out. Costume parties. Delicious dinners. Kitchen wins. Race PRs. Most people don’t post the other stuff: the meal they put in the crockpot but forgot to turn on when they left the house. Their worst race time ever because something about that second Gu just didn’t sit right and they were forced to take the scenic route by every porta potty on the course. Nobody Considerate people don’t post about their average Wednesday when they went to work, got three bills in the mail, and realized they’ve gained 4 pounds since the last time they stepped on the scale. They don’t post pictures when they go out to dinner at Panera wearing an average outfit or a less than stellar ponytail. Who wants to tell the world when they’re at anything less than their best?

Where is this tangent going? I meant for this to be quick.

My point is, I try to be selective in my status updates. Really great pictures (Like when Buster takes up residence in my lap alongside my laptop as I work. Go find that one, it’s adorbs.)   Or when Kaija is in town. (Because, really, my niece is by far the coolest/cutest/most interesting member of my family at the moment.) Sometimes I post when something extraordinary happens to me and it simply has to be shared with people other than Seth. (Like the time I found my jewelry in a moving box from when we moved. 4 months earlier.)

I try not to post about vacations or being out of town because 1. We don’t go on vacation. 2. If we did, should I tell the whole world my house is empty? I also try not to post pictures of my meals (Cliché. Boring.), my run stats (Because no one cares), or about the fact that “OMG it’s dark so early!” (If you’re old enough to be on Facebook, you’ve experienced the Daylight Savings Phenomenon a time or two.)

You know what I do like about Facebook though? (Aside from the fact it relieves you of any obligation to attend high school reunions because you already know who has gotten married/fat/skinny/pregnant/extremely religious/extremely successful…)
Random thoughts. The ability to mass inform people in your peripheral circle about milestones without having to call/group text a ton of people. The ability to promote small businesses and make connections in your community. The opportunity to share brief deep, or not so deep, thoughts.  Here are some of mine that I didn’t share in the past few weeks. I sometimes think in statuses these days, but if I posted them all, people would think all I did was hang out on Facebook all day.


Day 5 of wearing men’s deodorant. Seriously need to go to the store.

The leaves are turning! Fall weather is the best for running! I love Richmond!

All my clothes stink. I’m tired of sweating.

Welcome to Groundhog Day, where all you do is shower, blow-dry your hair, and apply makeup. Over. And over. And over.. And over. Again.

I’m not ready to think about Christmas shopping or outfits for holiday parties, but I am PUMPED to decorate this house for Christmas. #wehaveamantle

Seth impresses the heck out of me. He works on furniture all day, most nights, 6-7 days a week, then comes home and reads books about furniture. Huge books. And he’s not just looking at the pictures.

Many runners get all antsy and anxious when taper time rolls around, bewildered by all the extra time they have on their hands. I’m all like “No alarm clock!” and “Can I still eat candy every day and button my work pants?”

This week is Seth’s birthday and the 4-year anniversary of our first date. Cause for celebration. Also cause for wondering how is time possibly moving that quickly?!

And that concludes possibly the most pointless blog post I’ve ever written. Thank you for reading. You may now resume scrolling through Facebook.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's Talk About It

A few things from my random out of order train of thought:

It is October 29th, 2 days before Halloween, and I have yet to make myself ill on candy corn. Victory.


This picture. Cracks me up.















Logic I can get on board with. Look Mom- I eat salads!!
 




Tonight’s speed workout: 12 x 400s. Was it fun? Not my top definition of fun. Was it terrible? No. Did our entire team consistently hit times roughly 10 seconds per quarter mile faster than the first time we did this workout? Yes. Yes we did. Felt pretty sweet. I mean, if you can run a quarter mile 10 seconds faster then you can run a mile 40 seconds faster so you can run 13.1 miles 8.73 minutes faster… right? So maybe my math isn’t exactly on point. (I’ll get Theresa to help me with that.) I told Bob it was because I ate M&Ms today (true), but that’s misguided credit. As much as I love my chocolaty little friends, the plan Bob has given us, the plan he and Ruthie have helped us execute, the plan that has left me wondering what my life smelled like when I didn’t have a consistent accumulation of sweaty clothes from running 6 days a week… that plan has gotten us to this point. Little roof raising over here.

I never played high school football. Is it a requirement that someone vomit at every single practice, or is there just a certain point on every field that retains the odor so you get a nice whiff every single trip around the track? Seriously, I wonder this every track workout. It’s gross.

October is essentially over. What happened to 2013? Do I need to start Christmas shopping? I’m aging to rapidly. Mild waves of panic.

This gives me happiness.


It gives me happiness not only because, for me, all of the little things about running are really the 'big things', and the things that make my life so wonderful. It's the people I've met, the confidence it inspires, the peace it brings me, the support I've found from my family, the fact that my body allows me to do these things, that I live in a place where I am able to step outside my door and move, that I get to appreciate a city I love and the great outdoors no matter where I run, the knowledge that I can do hard things (credit to a stellar runner with a similar passion for candy) 

I am thankful to have found something that helps me appreciate so many of the little things, that are really the big things, in the life I am so fortunate to have.
Discuss: 

Better power food: gummy candy or chocolate candy?
Odors on the field? High school odors in general?

Dinosaur humor- anyone else?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Effort, Ease, and Getting Uncomfortable

I have been guided by multiple yoga teachers- including Jen- to find the balance between effort and ease in a posture. The effort it takes to find it, the ease to relax into it. The effort of maintaining your balance, the ease of not fighting it. The effort of your muscles supporting you, the ease of your breath flowing.

Like so many things yoga, the idea of effort and ease does not apply only within the confines of the mat. Like running. Some may roll their eyes at the use of the word ‘ease’ in connection with running, but I promise it’s there. There is a effort in every step of running. From the waking up, to the getting out the door, to keeping yourself going up hills, in the cold, in the dark, in the soupy sweaty summer… Mile after mile, minute after minute, it’s lungs, legs, arms, and heart. Effort. But I have found an ease in running too. “One foot in front of the other.” “Breathe in, breathe out.” “Just keep moving.” Maybe it isn’t ease, maybe simplicity is a better word. Just as in yoga when I get my foot into my hand, lift it behind me, and then just let it all go as I focus on my breath and stillness, when I run, I find that point on the run when it’s just rhythm. Breath and stride. Instead of stillness, it is all “forward.” Even when the pace is slow, the legs are heavy, or the mind is sluggish, it is all forward motion.

Effort and ease don’t always appear in equal amounts, but the knowledge that there is a balance to be found helps. There have been laps during speed workouts where I feel near panic, my breathing erratic, my arms pumping furiously, and my feet falling like a couple of Clydesdales breaking loose from their parade. If I can drag my mind away from the cacophony of alarm signals coming from my lungs, legs, and pounding chest, I can ease my mind with the in and out of my breath, the rise and fall of my belly, the wheeze in-wheeze-out rhythm of labored breathing.

This week I had the chance to be part of conversation with a well-known CEO in our area. As he shared his career wisdom, he kept coming back to the importance of getting outside your comfort zone. The need to “Get comfortable being uncomfortable” has been on my radar for a while now. I try to make a conscious effort to embrace, or at least put myself in, situations that initially make me uncomfortable. Don’t like driving? Best thing to do is practice right? Unsure in the kitchen? Better get out the cookbook. Intimidated by large crowds of people at social functions? Me too. Since avoidance is typically not considered a viable or admirable approach, acclimating yourself to these situations is the next best way to make them more comfortable.

It takes effort to be at ease. You must work and prepare to feel at ease and…prepared. Typically, there is no peace of mind without the knowledge that you have made every effort and taken the steps to ensure that, when it counts the most, you will have the speed/strength/will/knowledge/courage/presence of mind to perform. The list of situations in which I am completely at ease is much shorter than the list of situations where I need to get comfortable. Sweatpants at home, entertaining small children, eating, napping, being a worthless beach bum with my family- got ya covered. Competing, defending my opinion, stating my opinion, asking for money, mingling in a crowd of new faces, confrontation honest dialogue- the list alone makes my stomach flip and my eyes dart for the closest comforter to duck under.

As for getting out of my comfort zone, I still probably avoid more happy hours than I attend. I deliver far more comebacks and direct feedback in my mind than in reality, and I am quick to seek out those fuzzy socks. I have acknowledged my areas of discomfort, I raise my hand more often than I used to, and I know that when things get uncomfortable, I can always return to my breath.
 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Soup-er

Much to my mother's frustration, I have never been the best about eating my vegetables. And when I say, not the best I mean, I ate my first green salad when I was 22. Dinnertime was not a pretty thing for many years.

I've gotten better, but there are still many days where I feel I've done my vegetable duty when I polish off some sweet potato tots with dinner.

But things have changed. Now it's Fall and now I read blogs. So I'm constantly seeing all of these beautifully photographed, nutritious, locally-sourced, in season, eat-this-and-you-will-be wonderful meals. It's inspiring and really, if you devote enough of your time throughout the week to soaking in the nutrition, you just feel healthier. Scientific fact.

So naturally, on a recent stroll through Trader Joe's, I non-chalantly tossed some butternut squash into my cart. Mad the people around me think, 'she does this all the time'. No dish in mind, no idea what I was going to do with said squash when I got it home, but I was confident, with an arsenal of fitness foodie bloggers behind me. Got home, put away my groceries, and life carried on as normal. Despite the presence of additional nutrients in the bottom drawer of the fridge, the usual routine of "I'll be home late" "I'll just eat cauliflower and leftover pumpkin bread" got us through the week.

Guilt got me Sunday night, and I committed to cooking my butternut squash. I read a few suggestions, I gravitated towards simple: season, roast, throw in the blender with chicken broth. Boom. Homemade roasted butternut squash soup.
Seasoned it.
Roasted it.
Warmed a little chicken broth.
Threw it all in the blender.
Temporarily worried about the amount of steam inside my blender and the potential damage I was doing to my lovely smoothie-milkshake maker.
Hit blend.
Poured it in a bowl, took a few bites, didn't hate it.

I was feeling kind of victorious in my grown-up, home-cooking, healthy, seasonal, nutritious self. Then I realized, I was getting cocky about baby food.

In the future, maybe I'll steer clear of recipes that involve a blender.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Truths

Truth # 1:


Possible over-share, but incredibly accurate image. I refused to sleep in any form of pajama bottoms until I was… 11? 12? I was known to lounge around my college dorm room (or my friends’) so long post- shower in a towel/bathrobe my hair was dry before I got dressed. Something about a waistband interferes with my ability to relax.

Truth # 2:

Orange juice is GLORIOUS. I think I already knew that, but I have fallen completely out of the habit of buying it. It’s like drinking happiness. I know a lot of that happiness comes from sugar, but mix ½ a glass of OJ with ½ a glass of sparkling water and I am a very happy girl. (Fact 2a- people have started to ask if I'm Baptisit or pregnant because I'm constantly ordering sparkling water at resaurants. No and NO, I just love sparkling water. It's so much more special than regular water.)

Truth # 3:

I may have some OCD tendencies. We have been missing one pillow case from a particular set of sheets since we moved in July and it is driving me BATTY. To the point that I try to avoid using that set. I thought my need for matching pairs was limited to shoes and bedclothes, then I popped into the grocery store today for a few things. Watching the belt go by, I saw two cans of black beans, 2 cans of pinto beans, 2 cans of stew, and 2 frozen vegetable pies. I don't think I've ever bought only one bar of dark chocolate. We can say it's a 'one for me, one for you' situation, but let's be honest. I'm really just making there are enough rations until the next time I go to the store.

Truth #4:



Not some super deep thought, just a fact. Sure we all have our limits, but so so many of those limits are in our heads. Since I first learned the distance of a marathon, I proudly declared that anything or anyone who wanted to chase me for 26.2 miles wins. No way on Earth was I intended or capable of moving forward without wheels for that distance. Then I started hanging out with this crazy group of folks who like to do marathons and... bam. Two done. No wheels involved. I thought for a long time my limit was 1 mile (evidence: the beloved annual mile run in gym class). Then I thought my limit was 1 hour of running. Nudged that to 13.1 miles, and here I sit. Is 26.2 my limit? Probably not. Are we going to test that? I'll get back to you on that.

Truth # 5:



Buster likes body heat. This is my lap (and evidence that, despite truth # 1, I do (typically) adhere to social protocol and wear pants. In case you're wondering, no. His back is not level and is incredibly precarious typing on a computer balanced on a dog's back.