Tuesday, March 29, 2011

6 going on 40

Last Thursday marked the date.  I am just six months out from my 40th.  My son and I share "half birthdays" - so I was darn sure on 3/24.  13 going on 40 has now become 6 going on 40.  Wow!  There is still a lot to do on my list.  :) 

6.                  Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

I completed another 5K - the Atlanta Women's 5K - with my friend Lisa.  I was slow, as has come to be expected now, but I felt the best I've ever felt after a race and loved running with Lisa.  It was really fun!  I never really run with friends - too much pressure to talk, or I over run out of anxiety - but we had fun.  (I had fun with my friend Temple last year too at the SkirtChaser 5K!) 

After my half marathon, I've felt pretty lazy.  So, I need to get going again with a fresh sense of dedication to taking care of myself.  All I really want to do now is cuddle up in bed (weather NOT helping!) and read a book, or two, or three.  :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Party Planning

34.  Plan a big 40th celebration!

Okay, I've picked a day - but that is about it.  If anyone has ideas on place or theme, let me know!  I have several ideas in  mind, but just can't settle on what we want yet.  So...  I'd love to hear what others think would be a good idea!  Casual at home with a taco bar?  Blow it out fancy at a gallery in Hotlanta?  Forget playing host/ess and travel instead?  So many choices, so little time.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


17.                  Forgive someone… and then move on.

I have found this one really difficult to work on, but Lent seemed like the time.  I wrote a longer piece for my Apple yesterday and it can be found here:  http://www.wisdomem.com/  But I wanted to just include on the blog the letter I wrote to a person I need to forgive.  Hope it is helpful to someone.  I know writing it has been helpful to me.

Dear _______,
I hope this letter reaches you to find you well and that things in your life are positive. It has been a long time since we’ve talked to one another, but I wanted to reach out to you. I have some things I have been hanging on to for a long time, and I have reached a place in my path where it is important to express a few things. I hope you will be able to listen and hear part of my story.
Due to some circumstances in life, you were put in my path during a time when many big decisions were pressing on me. Some of this was exciting, and some of it very stressful. I sought out your assistance as a person of faith and influence, and it was appropriate that I should have done so. But instead of support or encouragement, rather than even constructive criticism – you sowed difficulty, distrust, and sorrow for me.
I have come to realize that you were probably never aware of how much damage you did to me during this time. I sincerely doubt you lost even one night of sleep, but I did. I sat awake many nights, anxiety and despair filling my head. You had the power to affect my life, and you did so; but you did not do so with kindness. At one point, I even told you I felt threatened by your words and actions. Your response was to say, “Hmm.” Do you remember that? Another time you told me you could find nothing positive to say about me.
Not only did you not help me on my path, I feel it is important to share now that you also road blocked my path. You put effort into causing me harm. For a long time, I felt powerless. I wanted someone or something to step in and realize the things you were doing that were deeply affecting my life. For a long time, and I would say far too long, I allowed that resentment to fester in me. I withdrew from my community, as an act of self-protection. I tried to fly under the radar. I tried to undo your punches. And in doing so, I gave you even more power. Even after you left my life physically, I have felt the impact of your rush through my life mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I am ashamed and embarrassed that I have spent so much energy unpacking those traumas.
I am reaching out now because I have spent my time grieving and need to let your power over me go. I know now that you were a frightened person, trying to hold on to your own world at the risk of damaging others. Before I offer you my forgiveness, I hope to offer you my apologies. I am so sorry. I am sorry that you were so uncomfortable in your own skin that your only answer was to act out in ways that were unhealthy. I wish I had been in a different place at that time, as maybe I could have seen things differently or been able to help you. Or, maybe I would have sought to find more light, instead of being sucked into your darkness. I truly am sorry. You are just a human being, and you make mistakes like everyone else.
I also want to offer my forgiveness – both to you, and to myself. First, I offer true forgiveness to you – hard earned on my end. I intend to let go of the pain you inflicted, because I truly believe you have no idea that you did it. I gave you that ability blessed with my permission. Therefore, I also forgive myself. I tried to find other solutions, but they did not come to fruition, and I felt stuck and suffocated, and I didn’t act at my best. I forgive myself for not finding more strength, and for not having clearer vision or perspective. I forgive myself for letting you lead the way I saw myself.
I’m growing, and I’m changing. It has taken a few years, but I have finally reached a point where I can’t grow any more without releasing you. So, whether you knew all along, or never had any idea – it was important to say out loud that I am letting you go now. I release you and I truly can wish you the best now. I have more perspective now, and I’ll keep praying for more. When I think of you now, I’ll pray for you too. I hope we can both find our way on to a better way. I wish you light.

I also saw this timely interview today with Rob Bell - loved it.  Though the timing was perfect. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just Keep Swimming

6.                  Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

I can't even believe I'm writing this - I FINISHED THE BERRY HALF MARATHON!

Two days later, it is so surreal.  I'd think that perhaps I hadn't actually done it, but every muscle in my body hurts in a pleasant reminder that I REALLY DID IT! 

Now that I've reached this milestone, I'd like to share a little bit of my journey to this point.  I have never been a runner.  When I was a student at Berry, it would never have even crossed my mind to run anywhere.  It is a goregous campus, but I can say I never full appreciated it by foot.  I dreaded lugging my backpack around campus, and schedules weren't always accomodating to take a leisurely walk during those days.  I once went through a program at Berry called Fitness for Life.  It was an optional opportunity to help students stay in shape.  I was SUPER skinny but not in the least drop athletic, nor did I desire to be.  I'd never been challenged with issues with weight or eating at that time.  I signed up for Fitness for Life just for fun.  When I went through the results, I will never forget what the guy said that interpreted them for me:  "You have the body of an endurance athlete, but the insides of a slug."  I didn't take it too hard at the time.  Being an endurance athlete wasn't my goal.

But years later, things have been different for me.  I have gotten older.  I have been pregnant four times - two precious children to show for it - and also a miscarriage, and a later term loss in utero that nearly shattered my world (not in that order).  I have dealt with life difficulties and some ongoing professional stress as I've sought a position in  ministry.  I've suffered from some depression.  I've been a busy stay at home mom to my kiddos and trying to keep up with all the demands and gifts of life.  I've had to take hormones.  I had abdominal surgery. 

And somewhere along the way, I gained a lot of weight and it has been a STRUGGLE.  Some has been out of bad habits, some has been from hormones, life, depression - there are a lot of boring stories.  I have dieted and walked and joined the Y and tried more things than I can count.  I could run this post for days and tell you why I have three different sizes of pants I like to keep in my closet.  As a guy friend of mine once said, "I'm really a 34 but a 36 feels so good I wear a 38."  One year on New Year's Day I told my friends Dede and David that my resolution was for my weight to fluctuate that year.  It was tongue in cheek, but that is the pattern I had been seeing.  Up and down.  Up and down.

One day I was on Facebook when I found my friend Scott.  We knew each other from college days through a mutual organization, but I went to Berry and he went to UGA.  The last time I had seen Scott had been years before, and I wasn't sure if he'd want to be my "Facebook Friend."  But we did reconnect, and started to share some stories.  Turns out Scott had become motivated to start running.  He inspired me to start a program called Couch to 5K http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml.  I have to say, when I started it, I just felt "even this" as a beginner's program was too much for me.  I had to supplement "off days" on the program with doing other things.  When I started, I literally carried a kitchen timer in my hand.  I'd walk for a  minute and jog for a minute and I couldn't WAIT for the minute to end.  It was not fun.  But I just decided, I'm not going to do this to lose weight - I'm going to gain endurance.  I'm going to stick with it.  I'm going to do a 5K.  And the day I started Couch to 5K, I made another decision - I signed up for a 5K THAT DAY.  It was several months away, but I wanted to commit myself to the decision. 

I worked very hard from May to August to meet my goal.  On July 3, my friend Margot hooked me up with a number for the Peachtree Road Race - a 10K - on July 4, the next morning.  I NEVER IN MY LIFE thought I'd participate in the PTRR.  I wasn't even training for a 10K.  I walked most of it, but it was just thrilling.  In August, I went for my first 5K, the Dog Days Run in Marietta.  It was a challenging course of steep hills and hot, muggy weather.  But I did it. 

I was also watching carefully what I ate.  I lost 25 lbs, and hard earned every tenth of a pound I lost.  A friend saw me at the end of the summer and asked how I'd done it.  I said, "It was EVERY choice I made."  She asked me if that was the name of a book.  I couldn't help but laugh. 

Just a few weeks after this, I found out that I had a fibroid tumor the size of a cantalope in my uterus.  I was scheduled for a hysterectomy via c-section in November.  I was really depressed, dreading surgery, and bummed that "just when I had gotten it together" - I was going to be on a long recovery.

I had already signed up, so I went ahead and ran in the Berry 5K on Alumni Weekend in October, and had my best time ever, a PR (personal record) as they say.  Then I ran the Oakland Cemetery Run Like Hell on Halloween morning, in the driving rain.  I listed to "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera http://s0.ilike.com/play#Christina+Aguilera:Fighter:15523:s327803.9793201.1096290.0.2.27%2Cstd_ffd2c556186e46d98f9bdbdf133b1e92 and rain poured off my face and I knew I had to complete this run.  I just didn't know when I'd be able to run again.

November came and so did my surgery.  I had a very long recovery.  In January I signed up for Women on the Move/Sisters in Stride at West Stride  http://www.weststride.com/ through the Atlanta Track Club http://www.atlantatrackclub.org/.  I was intimidated to go out with "real runners" - especially being so weak physically still at that point.  I was moving very gingerly.  But I felt it would make me feel obligated to return to running, and that I would also benefit from the advice of people who really do understand running.  Kudos galore to Genie and Jennie at West Stride - they make EVERYONE feel like they are runners, kind and encouraging every step.  I can't rave about them enough.

Since then, I will say things have been slow.  I've participated in several more 5Ks and 10Ks.  I'm not by any means fast, but I've not been training for fast.  I've stuck to training for endurance.  I want to keep up with my kids.  I want to not get winded easily.

I've had other setbacks.  In May after my surgery, I made an incredibly difficult decision to withdraw from a professional process that had gone on for eight years.  It had become such a negative experience that I knew something had to change.  I started to gain back some weight from post surgery issues and from anxiety and depression on the professional end.  Although I knew this particular decision was for the best, I have had issues to deal with and unpack.  There has been some grief and some things I needed to say good bye too. 

Over the past year I have been fortunate to also have the encouragement of Ginny and Molly at Chick-fil-A Wellness http://www.cfafittolead.com/.  My husband works at Chick-fil-A and I am grateful that they also extend these type of great benefits to us as spouses too.  Ginny and Molly  have helped me stay on track as I decided to focus on the goal of participating in a Half Marathon.  I just got to meet them in person in February for a "check up."  I had gained back about 10 pounds since I started last year.  Depressing!  But I had also strengthened in some other areas.  So, I keep focusing on keeping on.  As Dorie says in "Finding Nemo" - "Just keeping swimming, swimming, swimming..."  I have to think that sooner or later my good, or better, choices will catch up with me.

I had also injured my knee a few weeks before this trip with Chick-fil-A - and I spent most of February not training like I had been.  I ran a 5K there on the trip with Chick-fil-A Wellness - it was my PR all right - but on the wrong end.  It was the longest time it has ever taken me to run a 5K.  My knee wasn't happy.  I felt like seeing all those people I "knew" at the end was like running the Run of Shame.  They were finished, had had breakfast, heading back to hotels - and I'm still running!  BUT - once again, I finished.  And that made me faster than anyone still in bed.  :)

So - time came for the Berry Half. I had signed up months ago in order to hold myself to it.  After several weeks of great weather here in Atlanta, a miserable rain and lower temps were predicted for the race.  I wanted to talk myself out of going.  I went in to West Stride and said to Genie and Jennie - "I need help!"  They helped me make sure I was prepared with my clothing choices for temperature and rain.  I came home and packed my bag and my husband and kids and I headed up to Rome.  We picked up my number, stayed at my parent's house checking in on the weather - but things just looked nasty.  John took me over to Berry in the rain and 40 degree temps on Saturday  morning.  I have to admit some chattering teeth - both from cold and anxiety.  What am I doing here?  I thought.  All I have to do is stop.  I can go home anytime.  I couldn't help but feel a little like I did the morning of my surgery!  (What a horrible thought!) 

But - I got out of the car.  I waited for the shuttle.  I talked to people on the bus.  I found the restroom.  I realized suddenly that I had internally made the commitment long ago.  I was going in this race after all, despite what my head was telling me to the contrary.  Something deep and internal kept me breathing and got me focused.  I zipped up my jacket and headed for the start line.

I ran intervals (running for a time, then walking for a time - this has been my best method of training, something I learned from West Stride) and felt really great for the first 7 miles.  I kept up with a group of familiar backs - I'd pass them, they'd pass me - for a long time.  Then at about mile 7, I realized that I was really toward the back of the pack (I try to never look behind me, but we had a double back place where it was pretty obvious).  That was okay.  I also knew this was the mark where I'd never gone farther in a race.  There was actually a great sign that said, "Last is just the slowest winner."  Loved that!  I was expecting that I might run down around this point, even though I'd trained at longer distances, but I was still feeling good.

About mile 8, I suddenly thought, with no internal conflict, that I might be done.  It wasn't mentally arguing - just an little light went on where I thought, I might want a ride now.  Gratefully, at just about that point, we had another double back part in the race - ahead of me on the other side of the road was my friend Margaret, who had seen me at the other double back but I hadn't seen her.  She made a point to reach out and give me a five.  The timing was perfect and helped me keep going.

Just before mile 9, The Climb by Miley Cyrus came on my headphones  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG2zyeVRcbs.  Now, I mostly listen to upbeat songs, but I had put some slower songs on my playlist to make sure I was doing the intervals and not overdoing.  "Ain't about how fast I get there, ain't about what's waiting on the other side.  It's the climb."   I looked around me and saw gorgeous purple hills wrapped in fog, and honestly brought tears to my eyes.  I feel cheesy even saying I was this moved by Miley Cyrus - but I was.  :)

I made sure to get a gel pack at mile 9, and some Powerade.  I also realized as I started the last leg back, about a three mile trail before hitting the last half at main campus, that I wasn't going to be able to run.  I was starting to have some leg cramps and I did not want to injure my knee again.  I slowed down and walked 9.5-12.5.  I stopped a few times to stretch.  I can honestly say I considered calling John and asked him to drive up and get me.  I was hurting.  Then I saw another great little sign that said, "You have two choices.  You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off your forehead."  I decided I'd try to jog in the last .6 or so at a slow steady pace and finish strong.  I was too close to quit.  And, I also decided that mentally I could cross that line in tears and agony, with a spirit of defeat - or I could come through celebrating a great acheivement.  The attitude was up to me.

Just as I started to jog again, so close to finishing, my injured knee buckled with a terrible charlie horse cramp.  I felt tears come to my eyes and started walking again to get through it.  Not far up ahead, I spotted my friend Scott, who had come to the race with a friend, signing up just a few days prior.  They had waited over an hour for me after his finish.  They encouraged me around the corner and Scott asked if I wanted to race.  Total negative on that, but made me laugh.  Then I could see my two precious precious kids - cheering for me.  They started running on the sidewalk with me.  Then I could see my amazing husband snapping photos and waving.  One last set of photographers called out to me to look their way - I laughed and said to them, "There's no one behind me to block the picture, so you have to get a good one!"  At that moment, John captured the photo I posted above. 

I crossed the finish line with shouts from my friends Margaret and Mike, who had also waited for me.  Margaret hugged me and I broke into tears.  Such an emotional journey!  But soon I was delighting with these special friends and family who had cheered me in. 

I was late enough in the race that they were out of bananas.  But I felt bananas after accomplishing something like this.  I was tempted to wear my medal to bed.  I am still reveling today.  How long do you think you can wear a half marathon medal without people thinking you are odd?

And after all, I knew I wasn't going to win THIS race.  What is important is that I won MY race. 

I still have obstacles ahead.  I just think I'll look back on March 5, 2011 every time with a smile on my face.

Slow and steady.  Just keep swimming.   Every step counts. 

February Books

26.                  Read 50 books or more.

So, I'm finally  having a chance to post my books from February.  I was able to read five, so I'm up to a total of 33 read out of my 50.  Plus I just finished one I can't wait to rave about next month in March reads!  Here are the books from February.

29.      Three Willows:  The Sisterhood Continues by Ann Brashares
3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows (3 Willows (Hardback))
I can't begin to say how much I enjoyed reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, so I thought this looked sort of interesting.  But it just didn't have the clever spark I liked in the other series.  Not a bad read, but found myself skimming a lot, hoping to move the story along a little faster. 

30.      ScreamFree Marriage by Hal Runkel
ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer
My friend Hal Runkel wrote this book, as a follow up to his outstanding book ScreamFree Parenting.  This one is fresh off the press and definitely one to put on your reading list.  Both books by Hal give insight into relationships in general, as well as to parenting and marriage.  Also, be sure to check out their website at http://www.screamfree.com/site/PageServer to learn more about their practices and their mission. 

31.      Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)
I just had to finish The Hunger Games trilogy.  It kept calling to me from the book basket - "Read me!  Read me!"  I have so enjoyed this series, but with a twinge of guilt must say that I felt it ended with exhaustion.  It seemed like Collins sort of gave up on tying up the loose ends and went for a deal changer instead.  I don't want to say more in case you read it, AND I hope you will.  A fun story line, very different and engaging - so worth it.  Just have mixed feelings on the end. 

32.    Alberic the Wise by Norton Juster and Leonard Baskin
Alberic the Wise
This may not even be fair to count, because it is such a short book.  But - I am counting it because I think it is something I continue to chew on.  I discovered this book just recently - it is written by Norton Juster, who happens to have penned my very favorite book in the whole world, The Phantom Tollbooth.  I was thrilled to discover that he had written other things.  I had to do some work to get a copy of this book - it is used, with library binding - but I love the stories that conjures up for me too.  If you can find it, read it.  It really makes you think.  Obviously - a very "WISE" tale, just as you'd expect. 

33.     The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
This is one of our book club books this quarter.  I read it when we went out to Texas and enjoyed it.  A very fun, sort of different little read.  It reads like old mystery, and the characters were different and engaging.  The only thought I had to the contrary was that everything in the mystery really needed to be unpacked and explained; there weren't enough foreshadowing details to wrestle with it so much as a reader.  Just bit by bit things were revealed.  But I liked the heroine, a young girl named Flavia, and a few times even laughed out loud.   I'll take that any day of the week.

More posts are coming super fast this week - I have a lot to share! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February ends, March begins

Wow, what happened to February?  I hardly wrote a thing in February, and now the month is over!

6.                  Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

First - a miles update.  It will be brief, as there weren't many!  Just 27 miles in February.  I injured my knee mid-month, and have been nursing that.  I did run the Chick-fil-A Operators Fit to Lead Challenge 5K in San Antonio, TX last week, but I was the slowest I've ever been.  Hey, at least I was out there doing it!  :)  So, 27 more miles put me right outside Bowling Green, KY.  At least I have finally walked/run/biked my way out of Georgia and Tennessee.  Still heading toward my goal of Chicago!  I'm also still a really long way from my friend Drew in Ludlow, KY, but since I'm metaphorically in his state, I'm waving anyway.  Also, thinking of my friend Steph who is from Kentucky - even though I met her in Atlanta and she now lives in Louisiana.  :)

4.                  Go on a *big* trip to a place I’ve never gone.

Okay, next - although this wasn't exactly the "big" kind of trip I was thinking about when I wrote this one, I did go to a place I've never been before.  Thanks to Chick-fil-A, we got to go to San Antonio for the first time.  It was a fun trip and we enjoyed the experience!

Back soon with my book updates - some good ones this month, and I'm readin one right now that is spectacular!