January Coffee Chat

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Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

**Imagine we meet up at our favorite spot and have a few minutes to catch up…here goes…

I slowly walk in, scanning the room for your familiar, warm face. The brisk winter air and the warmth of the shop fogs up my glasses so it takes a minute longer to refocus.  As I’m unbundling my scarf and taking off my gloves I walk to the counter and order a cappuccino-my favorite “speciality” drink out these days.

I sit and breathe in the psuedo-silence.  There’s the hum of the espresso machine, and the chatter of other patrons.  I let my eyes fall shut and then I hear a bell–in you walk.

Our drinks arrive and we greet one another with a hug saying it’s been too long, but both clearly understanding that this season is one of hubbub and then silence.  It always is; that transition from busy, busy holiday commitments to New Year’s resolutions/goals/intentions/words and snow and cold.  It makes everyone slow down.

We chat about our venture into the new year, me telling you how for once I didn’t have my typical solo-date out at this very coffee shop where I’d drink endless amounts of drip coffee (after a specialty of course) and scour through the latest goal setting workbook I’d downloaded.  I had finally settled on one as it seemed to be the length I was looking for and something put together by folks my heart was leaning toward in this season. You hadn’t heard of Hello, Goodbye, so we discussed the accompanying podcast I listened to after quickly working through. I rolled my eyes and you tenderly placed your hand on my arm and reminded me to give myself some grace.  With the sickness that plagued our house during the holiday, to being extremely busy with some exciting work projects, things were just going to look different in this season, and that’s okay.

You mentioned that you had settled on your word for the year.  I joked that I settled on a phrase which was ironic that it couldn’t be narrowed down to a word.  Slow and simple.  They both have such a different meanings though.  You nodded and smiled as I mentioned these two words.  So true and needed for our time as we both looked around the now crowded shop, folks in line for their drink scrolling on their phone or checking the clock, eye-rolling at how long it was taking to get their drink.  Our words shared some of the same intention and you mentioned some things you were doing to help keep your focus on yours. You’re working on getting up earlier each morning. I mentioned I was really trying to be less tied to my phone but it wasn’t going so well. It’s such a nasty habit I’ve formed.  I bought a charging station for all our devices. I’ve downloaded the Moment app to track how much time I spend on my phone. I keep going back and forth on deleting certain apps–Facebook for one–but I’m so in love with the morning worship Crossroads is doing on there Monday-Friday at 7:30 I keep it on for that reason alone as some days I’m still walking into my office at that point and it’s been such a fantastic way to start the day.  Speaking of Crossroads, you mention you heard something about the new series that just started.  Yup, How not to be a jerkface.  And it’s just as incredible as the title sounds. Seriously, the perfect start as we’re thinking about these new year’s intentions.

You share a bit about the jerkface encounters you’ve had and you’ve been. I nod in full agreement–I’ve been there too. Literally on my way to church last week to hear this first sermon, someone honked at me when the light turned green as I was trying to find a lipstick at the light.  Actions vs. Intentions.  Every. Single. Time.

That statement –actions vs. intentions–easily shifts us to talk about work and kids. Your work is going well-keeping you busy but the days are passing quickly.  The latest photos of your littles are adorable and we both comment that we can’t believe how quickly time passes and out big all our kids now are.

But back to the year.  There seems to be so much pressure anymore to reinvent yourself every turn of the calendar.  What if we thought of each day like that? I’ve been working harder to look at 90-day goals and monthly goals. But sometimes (as you reminded me earlier) I have to give myself grace. 2018 has started out very slow.  Which is honestly how I landed on my word. Not as much traction in my writing. Not as much advocating for my Beautycounter business. But we’ve been meeting some of those monthly goals. We discuss our strategy for eating at home and sticking to our new budget (the answer? communication, go figure!). You mention  you think it’s okay to scale back and focus on the day-to-day.  We agree that’s why most “New Year’s” goals/resolutions/intentions have failed in our own lives (and perhaps others).  There’s just so much glitter and fanfare about doing this big thing that we forget about the actual thing.

I then start to tell you about another Annie Downs podcast that rocked my world this week about Sabbath. We’ve talked about this numerous times during our coffee chats, but this discussion pulled on my heartstrings.  And reinforced that slow and simple is the way to go.

Our coffees are almost empty and a quick glance at our watch reminds you of your next appointment. Before you head out, you look me square in the eye and remind me that my goal is valid and my phrase is on point. Slow and simple. That’s all we really need. And that you want to hear more about these 90-day goals at our next coffee chat.

As we’re starting to bundle up before we leave, you ask again about the Crossroads series, so I pull out my phone and we watch the trailer. A quick hug and you’re on your way and I pull out Hello, Goodbye from my bag to review one more time…

 

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Hello 2017

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2017 Goal Defining Process

2017-I’m sooooo glad to see you! As are many others this year who typically aren’t a fan of the calendar page turning.  I know many who shame New Year’s and all the “Fresh Starts” we see this time of year.  But for me it’s  the one time I get a week off work AFTER the holiday to rest.  To reflect.  It’s certainly different with a babe-the rest is coupled with nursing, changing diapers and wrangling our ever-curious babe.

I always love a fresh start. New planner.  Fresh page in the notebook. New set of pens and freshly sharpened pencils. I’m especially excited about this year. After June arrived and we had adjusted somewhat to her in our lives, we sat down and talked goals. Family goals.  BIG goals.  Exciting dreams and how they would become reality rather than just a shared Google Doc. 🙂

Now that those goals are set forth and we have a time-table to them, we now get to set the plan in action. It’s kind of like knocking over a domino and seeing the ripple effect–although this will certainly take much longer than it takes to knock them over. Perhaps this is the preparation–the setting up of said dominoes that will be knocked over in several years. But even in a 5 year timeline, discipline and faithfulness are the two BIG things that are going to make these dreams a reality.  My verse for this year is going to help me stay focused.

He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much. Luke 16:10

While 2016 was tough (and let’s face it-2015 was tricky too), I’ve got so much to be thankful for.  And as my girl Shauna always throws out those great ideas, here is my list of 10 things I’m grateful for in 2016.

  1. A healthy baby girl delivered at 31 weeks!
  2. Renovations on the house progressed-lots of drywall hung, painting and a more finished house.
  3. Amazing support from Lew’s parents–from making sure we had plenty of food when our NICU journey began &  when June came home to doing a TON on the house.
  4. The ability to work 4 days week this summer.
  5. Supper club! Such a fun, needed group for our souls this year.
  6. Prioritizing date nights became a reality.
  7. Gaining such great (continual) support from our NICU family.
  8. The ability to nurse June starting at day 47 to now–11 months!!
  9. Joining an incredible company with a mission-Beautycounter
  10. The most incredibly supportive partner and the ability to get away for an overnight just the two of us.

Bonus–This. Is.  Us. Enough Said.

I’m really stoked for 2017 and the new momentum we’ve found so far.  I was having a conversation with a friend this week and her New Year’s Goal was to just do grown-up things. Act like an adult. I love that. I think that’s where so many of my goals are as well-and each move us toward achieving our long-term goals. But really are just simply aligned with the kind of person I want to be in my mid-30’s. I want to eat healthy as I know my body needs, work toward becoming debt free, grow together in our marriage, increase my depth, understanding and commitment to the Word, and keep my eyes on that long-term goal.  If every decision we make this year stems out of faithfulness to these things, it’s gonna be a good good year.

2015 Reads

One of my goals for this upcoming year is to spend less time in front of the TV and more time with my nose in a book.  As much as I do love a physical book, I’ve seen several folks I hear and see  out there in blogs, Instagram and podcasts -(Emily, Jessica and others) talk about the ease of a kindle and how it’s really helped them to read more–especially being super busy gals, wives and moms. After using the app consistently on my iPad in the fall and actually making it through several books, I was grateful to receive the Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas.  I’m excited as it’s much easier to use one-handed than the iPad (which will come in hand when the Bebe arrives!) I also love taking the kindle to bed because I’m much less apt to browse social media when my only option is the book I’m reading.  And it automatically updates to Goodreads which I’ve re-started using to keep track of my reads (you’ll see a nifty new little widget down there on the right side of what I’m currently reading). I will say I am still a fan of a traditional paperback for non-fiction especially and love the kindle for fiction, but it’s hard to pass up a great Kindle sale on some of the books on my wishlist when they are $1.99!

Goodreads has a yearly reading challenge each year which I’ve never “officially” participated in. My goal this year is 26 books, which seemed really lofty.  The beau did it a few years ago and warned me that it was challenging. Granted his book selections are quite different than mine, I felt up to the challenge.  So far I’m ahead of my needed pace and have already finished 3 books–ALL on the Kindle!  One additional thing I love is that two of the three books were checked out from our local library!  One challenge is only having 7 days to finish them, but I’m making it work and it’s keeping me on pace.  I plan to update each month with my books read the previous month, so be on the look out for that post soon!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share the 11 books I read in 2015.  I have logged them on Goodreads but hope to do a better job of sharing a review on there as well this upcoming year. These reviews are MUCH shorter than the upcoming ones will be!

Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have-Annie Downs

I met Annie a few years ago at Allume and it felt as if we were instant friends.  Reading this book was like catching up at her favorite coffee shop. Fantastic read!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette-Maria Semple

Super duper fun fiction read!  Highly recommend.

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life-Shauna Niequist

Shauna is probably my favorite voice right now speaking right into this season for me.  This, her first book, was no different than her more recent works. I love the short story-ish format.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful-Myquillyn Smith

Not your “typical” book, but a great illustrated example of how I hope to create our home as we’ve journeyed through a year of renovations (the end is in sight!) Love reading her blog and this book was no different.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon-Sophie Hudson

This was purchased on a kindle deal and it was a great fun read.  Definitely one that’ll make you laugh!

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption-Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton

This was our Common Reading Experience book selection at UK this year and although a difficult read, an important one.

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul-Jennie Allen

I had purchased the previous version on a kindle sale, but after Jennie updated this with a bible study, I jumped in with two feet with a group of 20-ish other ladies at 6:30am this summer (YIKES!) It is such an important book with an amazing take-away.

Big Little Lies-Liane Moriarty

After a heavy year and hard season I needed some more fiction.  I heard a lot of great things about Liane for several guests on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast and found this one at half-price books on the discount bin.  I’ve read several more of hers since then (some in 2015, some in 2016 already) and this one is still probably my favorite.

The Husband’s Secret-Liane Moriarty

My second Liane read–another great one!

 

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards-Jen Hatmaker

Read this book.  I took it with me to Virginia when my mom passed away and Jen’s truth and humor were a balm to my saddened heart.

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World-Emily P. Freeman

This book. I slowly savored this book since the fall and didn’t finish until right before the new year. It was released the same day as For the Love–which everyone seemed to be guffawing about at the time–and rightfully so, but my heart was in this message. Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. There were nights I’d read this before bed and just be in tears (It could also be that pregnancy had something to do with that). I can’t wait to go back through this with a pen and highlight my favorite parts. The first go through just wasn’t enough for me.  Looking forward to a long weekend with nothing to do but just devour this after savoring it.

What reads do you recommend I add to my 2016 list?

Looking ahead to 2016

As I look back at 2015 and think about what I want to do differently or live into with more intention in 2016, I came up with quite a list as you can imagine.

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But when I really dug deep (Thanks to the Powersheets for a lot of that) I realized that there are two big things I want to do in 2016.

  1. I want to be a better steward of what resources I already have. I am certainly fortunate and so grateful for all the good that I have. But I don’t always steward it well. Often when we think of stewardship it’s in regards to money and while that is certainly apart of my goal, I’m thinking of a broader view of stewardship. Stewarding my time. My talents. The things I already own. The things that we might purchase this upcoming year (hello Baby Registry madness). How can I honor God, our own family goals and also be able to have the margin to give back (and give away) our possessions. I want to be reminded that this is not our eternal home and to hold loosely to those material things that I can often hold with a clenched fist.
  2. I want to S A V O R every moment of this new year.  I don’t know what to expect as a new mom. I don’t know how I’ll feel about returning to work this summer. I don’t know what I’ll need. I don’t know how becoming a mom will stir up new grief emotions of losing my own mom this past fall.  What I do know is that I don’t want to miss moments. I know (from all my friends, family and voices I hear through blogs and podcasts) that being a mom of little littles is hard. And while I’m buckling my seat belt to prepare for that hard, I don’t want to be so caught up in the hard that I wish it away.  I don’t want to wish away time spent. That’s the paradox I’ve found grieving loss and celebrating new life this year simultaneously. Taking the hard and knowing it’s only here for a season and readily embracing what comes with it. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

So what do these two things mean for me practically? 

Slowing down.

Saying no to things.

Eating clean meals at home around the table with people with I love.

Giving things away.

Reading more.

Watching less TV/Netflix.

Writing more (both here and in my journal).

Being intentional about time with those who matter most.

Taking long walks.

Getting as much sleep as possible.

Enjoying a weekly bath.

Doing my own nails every Sunday night to wind down our Sabbath.

Joining with Supper Club monthly for a great meal, laughs and maybe even a few tears.

and one of the biggest ones…..

Not feeling guilty for doing any of these things over something I SHOULD be doing (things I said no to, date nights out vs. at home, a super clean house, etc.).

I recently read somewhere that our “shoulds” never bring us true happiness. While I completely recognize that life isn’t all about being happy and that there is a lot of life that is unhappy and there’s a true difference between happiness and joy, I do see the truth in this statement.  What are the things that fire me up? That only I was created to do? What do I do with the ease of falling snow? That’s what I am going to do this year.  (Thanks Shauna for this amazing reminder). I’m realizing those things are different than they were 10 years ago.  5 years ago.  Even 2 years ago.  A lot of my “shoulds” are those former things.

I’m no longer the gal that wants to be orchestrating the details of an event or casting vision for a huge long term project. While my job requires me to do that on occasion, I’d much rather be meeting with someone one-on-one in a coffee shop, writing or teaching/leading a small group over the masses.  I think that came out in my goals and what I want this upcoming year to look like. Say no to the things that used to fire me up that now leave me depleted. I’m walking away and won’t feel guilty at all because I’ve got a whole new list of things that feel like the ease of the falling snow. That’s where I want to live in 2016.

So as you lean hard into your 2016, what are the 1-2 things that you wish to focus on? What feels like the easy of the falling snow for you? For me, it’s savoring each moment and doing the best with what I’ve already got. If I can do those two things, 2016 will be a winner. 

 

 

#SuperSummer Update 1

So I’m 10 days into #SuperSummer and like anything else, it’s been a roller coaster of sorts. I woke up on Saturday, June 1st around 6am (after my goal of a 5am wake time) to my wake-up light birds chirping and the beau standing across the room turning that alarm off.  Apparently he tried to wake me at 5 saying “alright, who’s ready to earn some points?” and I wasn’t having any of it. Funny thing is, I never even heard him.  Needless to say, May was exhausting.

The rest of that weekend however and even the first few days into the week, I was rocking some points. It was a game–like a live video game (I don’t even like video games) but I was winning this one. Water the flowers? POINTS! Do a 5 minute habit workout while the frittata’s cooking? POINTS! Eat Breakfast (hello, frittata!)?  POINTS! Drive to Lexington or work in silence? POINTS! 5 minute stretch while catching up on all un-read blogs?  DOUBLE POINTS!!  I was loving it.

Then the upswing of all the points came crashing down. It didn’t crash and burn, just a little reality set in. I had a great Google Hangout chat with my accountability pals which was really encouraging (Thanks!)  I need to re-evaluate some of my points. My theory going in was that I wanted to have as many options as possible to earn points. Why not? Why only set 5 goals for each point category when I could set 10. Reflecting on some recent conversations however, I’m reminded that I have a tendency when it comes to goal setting to go big. Like really, really, pseudo-unattainable big. And that’s exactly what happened.

I’m WAY over on the amount of Mind points I should have gotten in a week and right on target (according to the numbers) for Body points.  However, most of my body points came from things that didn’t necessarily make me sweat.

So here’s my plan moving forward in week 2?

  • Think. Take some time to really think about the goals I set and if they match their assigned point value.
  • Adjust.  Change some goals. Cut some out. Simplify. It’s allowed.
  • Balance. Integrate a goal of trying to find balance with Body and Mind points. One should not have be just shy of 1000 Body points in one week yet well over 2000 mind points. Perhaps I’ll give myself bonus points if my body and mind points are within a certain value of one another each day and each week. Any other #SuperSummer folks have thoughts?
  • Sweat.  Sweat daily. I must increase my activity. My body goals are valid pursuits, but I need to move. To sweat. To be sore.
  • Grace.   Give myself grace. This is a 3 month/100 day challenge for a reason.  I’m not going to learn all I’m hoping to, make all the changes I need to in 1 week.

Take care and be well!

faithfulness and balance

As the semester comes to a close for me, I’m constantly thinking and reflecting about what went well, what things to change next semester or next spring and how to maximize my summer time. Believe you me, all educators know that you blink and suddenly you’re turning your calendar to August 1 and few of the items on your “summer list” have been checked off.

balance

This semester was incredibly fast. There were some challenging days.  But it was also very good. It seemed as if once a month I was traveling or doing something outside the responsibilities of my job. I was very fortunate to attend a StrengthsQuest Intensive at my alma matter in February and have been brainstorming on how to incorporate this with students. In March, I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as the Volunteer Coordinator for RunTheBluegrass–the half-marathon held at Keeneland in Lexington, KY. This was the bucket-list half-marathon I ran last spring and although life threw some curve balls to my training, I still wanted to be involved and absolutely loved this experience. With 4000 runners, approximately 6000 guests at Keeneland and 200 volunteers, I definitely learned a lot about large-scale event planning. Definitely threw me back to New Student Orientation and Check-In energy and although I was exhausted, it was so worth it! April brought my class trip and graduation for Leadership Scott County and the end of the semester which is quite busy in and of itself. My interns made their final presentations, seniors prepare to don their cap and gown and I recall all the things that haven’t been confirmed before students or faculty duck out for summer. (Photo credit: ★ jox via photo pin cc)

May. One of my favorite months for a multitude of reasons. The biggest is that it brings a different pace to my life. Through all the busy-ness this season brought my way, I was still trying to do my best in all my goal areas for 2013. It’s hard to believe that it’s May and I still haven’t really posted a true overview for my yearly goals.  I’ve been chucking away at them, remaining silent in this space for a variety of reasons.

faithfulness

In April, I worked with a friend who is also starting her business as a running/wellness coach.  We looked at some goals, what things I feel need to be in place to make me happy. Many of our coaching sessions were over a run at West Sixth. The last week I’ve been reflecting on our last conversation. I’ve always been the type to have these huge goals. I know deep down that goals are to be attainable, and in my mind, they have been. However, I find myself disappointed at my self-discipline in actually attaining said goals.  Over the weekend, I spent a little extra quiet time fueling my soul with reflections in my journal entries over the past few months and preparing for the summer session of HelloMornings (a fantastic way to build accountability for morning quiet time, movement and planning). I re-read the e-book that HelloMornings was built off of, Maximize Your Morningsand something that the author Kat Lee said, jumped off the page for me.  (Photo credit: Perfesser via photo pin cc)

It’s about faithfulness and balance, not about perfection.

Talk about being stopped in your tracks. Whether it’s practicing a morning routine, or eating clean, or staying committed to a running plan–

faithfulness.

balance.

Two things I strive for in my daily life, but had been failing at miserably for months.

That’s my goal for May. Be faithful in what I do and what’s important to me. No check-sheets or lists. Just faithfulness to what I have on my plate each day.

My accountability is just to show up.

Let faithfulness guide the things I commit to and may they be fueling my calling and passions and God given talents.  That will bring balance to all things in my life.

Be well,

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Don’t Lose Your Life

Photo credit to darkmatter via photopin cc

Please hear me I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for having dreams and goals and plans…all I”m saying is don’t get so caught up in those things you forget everything else. Dang it, I pretty much just spoiled the whole post…continue reading…

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We are to experience the abundant life ~Lara Williams

I mentioned turning 30 a few years ago and honestly, I really looked forward to it.  I know a lot of women really struggle with that number, but I embraced it.  I have always had friends older than I, and I loved their perspective of feeling they really felt at home in their skin–more confident, sure of themselves, fearless, and brave–upon reaching that milestone age so many fear.

My favorite cake (same as our wedding cake!)

In turn with that excitement, I created the 30 before 30 list.  You know, that bucket list of things I intended to check off before leaving my 20’s behind.  Lots of things on the list and I had every intention of knocking them all out of the park solid.  Some were trivial (start composting), some more difficult (run a 1/2 marathon), but I set out to check off this list.  My list.

Say ‘no’ to the voices and listen to God. ~Sarah Mae

Then life happened.  Things with my Mom’s illness started snowballing and although I thought I could still get them done, the list got left in the dust.

My 30th birthday came and went with wonderful celebrations with the beau and family and friends.  No worries, I thought–I’ll complete the list within my 30th year of living.

The one I knew that would take the most effort was the half-marathon.  So I started training.

Mind you, the beau and I ran our first 5K on Thanksgiving 2010.  I turned 30 in May of 2011.  On March 31st, 2012, I ran my  half-marathon.  41 days prior to turning 31.

Proof–that’s my name on that bib!

In chasing that dream, I had to make it my priority.  Being a slow runner, my Saturdays became dedicated to long runs.  I ruled out connecting with friends, housework and trips to Virginia because I had to get in a run.  Sometimes other things that probably should have been my priority.

Saying ‘yes’ to something is saying no to something else (husband, kids, health, extended family, etc.) ~The Nester

You see, truth be told, I was not ready to run a half-marathon.  I wasn’t the last person out on the course, but I was close to it.  I got so focused on meeting that goal that come hell or high water, I would cross that finish line and get that medal around my neck.  Both things that I did.  But at what cost?  I was so focused on running that all other forms of physical cross-training went out the window.  Assuming I’d shed some pounds and make the run easier, I didn’t realize that long distance runs can make you gain weight (depending on your eating habits).

So, yes, I have the medal.  But what did I sacrifice in the meantime?  Thankfully, it was nothing earth-shattering.

Am I doing the right things well? ~Ann Voskamp

But was I doing what I was meant to be doing in that season?  I will say that there were some relationships formed through that experience that have been so life-giving.  I met an amazing group of runners in my area that continue to encourage and inspire me to this day.

But was I being realistic about where I was at in the moment or was I chasing after a dream?

Worship God by being obedient to where you are right now, no matter how big or small. ~Sally Clarkson

Unfortunately I have to say it was the latter.

So this morning, my alarm went off early as it always does and even though the temperatures said 27 degrees, I layered up, dusted off my running shoes and hit the pavement.  I’m taking things slow this go round.  No big goal in the immediate future.  Just work on speed.  Run a bunch of 5K’s to improve my time.  The beau and I discussed a holiday run to see where we are as we’ll miss our traditional Thanksgiving Day run due to his school schedule.  And sure, I’d love to run my next half-marathon next fall, but I’m gonna take it one day at a time for right now.  I have hope that it can happen and I want to do it the right way.

Jesus can do big things when we share about hope. ~Annie Downs

I’m hopeful that life isn’t about missing the everyday moments of grace we are afforded because we’re chasing the next big shiny thing or checking something off our bucket list.

Be well,

{This is post #2 in my reflections from Allume 2012.  Click here to visit the rest of the series.}

Run the Bluegrass

Swag and Medal!

When the beau and I were approaching turning 30 last year, we made our 30 before 30 list–you know that list of 30 things we wanted to accomplish before reaching that milestone age.  I’d love to be sitting here saying that we crossed everything off that list.  Unfortunately, we got the list down to 15 seeing that that would be more manageable, but that didn’t quite happen either.  I think at the time, I was really ashamed for not doing that and heaped guilt onto myself so much so I even deleted the posts around here that I had made about that list.  In the spirit of vulnerability, I’ll dig that out and re-post soon.  Perhaps now I should start working on my 40 before 40 list.  Haha…

Although there was a sense of grief for not getting that list completely checked off, the one thing that really haunted me was the half-marathon.  Deciding that I wouldn’t live in a state of regret, I vowed that I would at least finish it within my 30th year of life.  I’m very proud to say that this weekend, that happened. As you may have read in my intro to running post right after we started our training, running wasn’t just about getting healthy and completing a goal, but being the best steward of the life (and legs) that we have so graciously been given.

There was also this idea for me that completing this was a dream I’d always had, and I had to do something to make it happen.  Dreams are good, but they don’t get you anywhere most of the time unless you have some accountability.  Enter the deadline.

my push for the finish line

When first hearing about Run the Bluegrass, the Beau and I discussed it and decided to hop on board.  What a better way to finish our first marathon in our own town (okay–we claim Lexington as ours even though it’s not officially) and it was touted as being one of America’s prettiest Half-Marathons.  We signed up. We had no idea it was also going to be extraordinarily full of those rolling Kentucky hills.

We started training after our second 5K in November, registering at the early, early bird rate ensuring that if we had money on the line, we’d be more likely to train.  I looked up training plans and found one that was solely a running planning, jotted it all down in my Erin Condren planner and in December, we set to training.  We had about 17 weeks at that point.  We didn’t get in much running the week of Christmas due to being sick and the holidays, but overall, felt pretty good about our plan at the time.

Let me just state right here that training is rough.  Not only is training for a half-marathon tough regardless of your age, fitness level or experience, when you have quite a bit of weight on you that you need to shed, it’s even tougher.  More on that to come…

We did our best for what we knew how.  We stuck to our plan (for the most part) and thank the good lord above, got connected with LexRunLadies at the perfect time.  I was able to join on two group runs and even though my pace was much slower than all those other ladies (and gents) out there running, having a support community made such a difference in my training.  I’m so thankful that there are exciting training plans for the summer and into the fall already underway.

So March 31st came and although I had been on part of the course before with the ladies, it’s hard to really conceptualize what 13.1 miles is going to look like and more importantly feel like.

We picked up our packet the day before and were stoked to get our shirts and numbers.  It still seemed very surreal at that point.  I could not believe we were actual going to run a half-marathon.

Pre-Race Pic!

It could not have been a more perfect morning.  Temps starting out in the 50’s with it forecasted to be no warmer than 70.  It was sunny to start out, but ended up being very overcast all day, which was perfect.  We went to bed early the night before (per usual) and woke up at our usual (early) time.  We got our gear on and went out for a walk/run to warm up our legs.  We had lots of time before we had to be at the course, so we both read a bit and I got real sleepy.  That adrenaline picked back up though once we got in the car and was close to the course–seeing all the cars and taillights.

Man...it was early!

Getting to the course, we saw a few familiar faces, got a pic with the Ladies and shared a few hugs and met some fellow runners that I hadn’t even met yet from our group.  Krissie  as always was so encouraging and I was stoked to finally meet Lydia, a fellow first timer!  After seeing a few other friends from church who were running, we made our way to the starting line.  We continually moved toward the back, knowing that my emotional and mental state would be much better having fewer people passing me at the start.

Lex Run Ladies Runners and Volunteers

A few of the LRL Runners

I kept it slow and steady knowing some of the hills that were awaiting me and that I didn’t want to run out of steam too fast.  I don’t have a Garmin or anything super fancy to track my pace and time, but I felt like I was doing good.  Breathing was good.  Pace felt just right.  Right before getting to the first water station at around 2.75 miles, I met up with Abby and Daphne her dog wearing running shoes.  Abbi was the end.  The gal whom I later became to know as the sweeper.  She was to keep a 16 minute pace and be the last “runner” although she walked almost the entire way.  Those around me were mostly walking.  Several had started running, but after encountering the hills, quickly turned to a solid walk.  My short legs even at my standard running pace were barely keeping up with those walkers.

Not gonna lie.  I was discouraged.  I had started out saying I just wanted to finish this race.  Then I said I wanted to finish and not come in last (I know that someone has to come in last, I just did not want it to be me).  The week of, I said I wanted to finish in 3:30.  Knowing that before I had even gotten to mile 3, I was already with the “sweeper”–I was not feeling it. Why in the world had I signed up to do this?

Then I remembered what a dear friend & colleague shared with me earlier this week about our professional lives.  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Let me state that again. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

From that point on, those six words rang through my mind over and over and over.  I kept a smile on my face thinking of all those folks I was running for.  Those who were on my mental list.  Those who had been encouraging me all week.  Those who had been my cheerleaders for the entire training period.   I had my phone on me and from time to time would take a look at the tweets and one fun text from a student encouraging me to press on.  No one was going to steal the joy that I was going to have at that finish line.

I kept trucking on, walking up hills and running fast down them and in the few straight stretches.  There was a nasty S-curve at one point that I just was over before even starting to walk it.  Then I remembered those who would have loved to have walked it but can’t.  “Suck it up Faith and walk up this nasty hill for them.”

There was nothing like seeing a crew of folks standing near the barn close to the finish and all of a sudden seeing neon signs being held up.  Then I recognized the Beau.  And then Krissie and Nathan with his ‘stache. 🙂 I saw Maria, my accountability partner.  Our friends from church.  Our small group family.  A baby stroller–little Grayson had made the trip too.  Let me just tell you, I could barely hold back the tears.

Best Smallies Evah!

Seeing those smiles and encouragement really pushed me across the finish line.   Maria joined me for the last stretch and it was so great to have her there and share in a really incredible moment.  Hearing the cheers from those strangers at the finish was amazing.  And having that medal placed around my neck was one of the proudest moments of my life.

We did it!

Let me state again–this course is very tough.  The part that I had not ran before was brutal.  I did not finish in 3:30.  I was not last–but not far beyond the last.  I actually didn’t even come in last in my age group, which honestly, I’m completely shocked by.

I am very proud.  I didn’t give up.  I stopped comparing myself to others and finished with a smile.  I’m excited about what’s next.  Have a few 5K’s and 10K’s on tap to really zone in my training and looking forward to a new perspective when I complete the Iron Horse Half in October.

Can’t wait to getting one of those 13.1 stickers for my car and (as Lydia said) recalling each time I see it just exactly what I’m capable of.  Tough to have a pity party for yourself with that on the back of your car.

Best,

Weekly Roundup-February 17, 2012

Goals:

  • Physical–Got a little off schedule on our runs, but at the same time, I don’t want to get so consumed by running that I can’t still manage things in our life that are also important.  We were traveling,  plus I came down with a cold, so there were a few runs that didn’t happen, but I still got out there yesterday and ran 6 and will run 8 tomorrow.  My knees really bothered me after those 6 miles, but it was also raining, so I coated them with IcyHot last night and they feel a million times better today.  One SUPER exciting thing was our annual Health Risk Assessment at work this week.  I was a little nervous about going because it had been a while since I’d had these levels checked and although I KNOW that Paleo works for us and I’ve seen results in the way my clothes are fitting and on the scale, I was anxious to see if my numbers were going to say the same–boy did they ever!  I could not have been more pleased!

Health Risk Screening Results

  • Spiritual–God has really been reminding me the importance of prayer and what a difference that makes in our lives.  From my prayer runs (which still seem all over the place) to getting a copy of The Circle Maker last week when it was on sale for Kindle, I’m very aware of my prayer life right now.
  • Creative–I haven’t done much crafting lately, but have a lot of things on tap that I want to do, thanks to Pinterest!  Perhaps I’ll carve some time out on Sunday Sabbath to do so!
  • Home--Definitely moving forward on a lot of projects!  We acquired some new furniture pieces while helping Mom clear out her apartment so our bedroom is much more bedroom functional with another dresser and actual bedside tables rather than the TV trays that had been flanking our bed for the past 2.5 years of our marriage.  🙂  We also have moved some pieces around downstairs and are liking how that’s all turning out.  My goal is still to have the Nook “finished” by the end of February.  We have a few things at Ikea and the Container store to pick up so those might not quite be in by then, but it WILL be done by then.
  • Personal–It’s really been a great week!  I entered a muffin contest yesterday and won with my Paleo Pumpkin Dark Chocolate muffins (blog post forthcoming soon!).  Work has been good, a little crazy, but good.  I’m so glad that I cleared my schedule to get some rest this week as I had a bit of a cold (more on this below).

Mom Update: Things are going well–I was able to conference call in to a care plan meeting with the folks there last week and I think we are well on our way to getting Mom better!  We had a really productive weekend there and she is well on the way to being out of her apartment by the end of the month.  She had some good time with her sister Donna on Valentine’s Day.

Yummy Recipes! I’ve had some good things on tap recently AND have actually taken photos, but alas, haven’t downloaded them to the computer just yet.  😦  BUT!  I do have a few from past weeks to share and one from our Valentine’s Day dinner!

Meatzza- Definitely fits the bill when you're eating Paleo but craving pizza!

Brussell Sprouts with Avocado and Bacon, Shrimp with Mango Avocado Salsa

Valentine's Day: Steak with Bacon and Bleu Cheese Sauce, Brussell Sprouts with Bacon and Dates and Sweet Potato Rounds with Chipotle Sauce


“Pinteresting” Things: New category here.  I’m loving Pinterest and thought for those of you who might not be on there, I’d share a few of my favorite pins from the week.  If you’re on pinterest, feel free to follow my boards!

Last weekend in Virginia, I walked away with a canister of buttons I knew I’d be able to use for a crafting project only to find this one a few days later!

button hair pins

I have a TON of t-shirts that just need to go–they don’t fit right or I just don’t like the cut, but I really don’t want to really get rid of them–looking forward to a crafting day to try this!

t-shirt tank tutorial

We use coconut oil a lot to cook with and I’ve heard it has a ton of uses, but MY, oh MY!  Super excited to try many of these!

uses for coconut oil

Although I took last week off to “recoup”, I’m hoping something like this will really keep me on track, blog-wise.  I’m probably just going to print out the pages and keep them in my Home Management notebook as to not have one more planner in my life.  🙂

blog planner

Things I’m learning: Once again, rest is so important.  I said “no” to things that were just going to “clutter” my week, one thing being this blog.  As much as I love writing and the sense of creativity this little space allows me, I knew that I needed rest, especially after coming down with a cold.  Although the blog and other things I said no to are all great, sometimes we have to allow ourselves the freedom to just say no. 

Interesting quote/Scripture: “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest” Exodus 33:14  This has been my “theme verse” for this week and it has been so nice to remember that God’s presence is with me and giving me rest.// “He renews my soul.” Psalm 23:3–not sure if I had heard that version (God’s word translation) of that specific verse–love the visual and feeling of my soul being renewed.

Hope you’ve had a great week!  Happy Weekend!

Weekly Roundup-February 3, 2012

Goals:

  • Physical–Our Whole30 finished this past week and the beau and I were both very pleased with the results!  We have definitely gone past the “let’s do this for 30 days to see how we feel” phase to more of a “I can’t imagine eating any other way.” Everyone has different views on “diets” and healthy eating and I’m not going to harp on what that means, but I’ve had a lot of folks inquire about Paleo, so I’ve compiled a little post of my own about what Paleo has meant to us.  Running is continuing to be great.  We had a slower week last week, and are building back up to a 7 miler tomorrow.  I’m adjusting to the blisters and got some recommendations for great socks that are supposed to help, so I hope to check those out soon.  They don’t hurt, so I’m thankful fro that.  Cardio Sculpt, a class offered through my work, started this week and I’m pumped to get a little more cardio and sculpting going on…and to hang out with work friends in a non-work environment.  Oh..and yoga begins next week.  My energy level is through the roof and I’m so thankful to have found a rhythm and routine that works for us.
  • Spiritual–Continuing to learn what it means to listen to God.  It’s not always easy, but always worth the time spent silencing your heart and mind and just being still.  So thankful my creator loves me and calls me his own.  Also praying about some new opportunities to serve and fulfill God’s calling on my life.  So thankful for little nudges of God’s love through things like this.  Also some great conversations and opportunities with students that are oh, so fulfilling!
  • Creative–Need to get to some crafting…haven’t gotten anything in that arena done yet.
  • Home--Saturday didn’t see as many things done in regards to the nook…or our trim, for that matter.  BUT, we have LIGHT at the bottom of our stairwell, some new electrical outlets and definite progress was made.  We hope to continue some of these during this coming weekend.  We also are on board with our own personal budgeting plan for 2012 (a little slow, I know) and reigning things in so we can finish house projects and do a few fun things throughout the year.
  • Personal–I have the most awesome husband.  I know many of you out there would say the same thing about yours, but I truly am blessed.  I got a new nickname this morning–Cherry Bomb…the beau said “‘Cause you have red hair and your the bomb.  It’s your biker nickname.”  I mean, how can you not smile at that. Seriously though, it’s been a busy week, but such a good week.  We are doing really well and I’m feeling very productive which always makes one feel great.

Mom Update: Mom is adjusting to the new facility after a rough first 24 hours.  She’s in therapy for her back pain daily and is thankful to have family close by to visit.  If you’d like to send her a card to cheer her up, post a comment with your email and I’ll send you her mailing address.

Yummy Recipes! [Photo phail again!  Agh!]  This week was once again a combo of old standards and new concoctions.  Shepherds Pie was on the table, although I didn’t have onion and for some reason thought the recipe included celery.  It wasn’t until after the celery was diced and sauteing that I realized the error of my ways.  It was still tasty though!   I made Pizza Soup in the crock-pot and that was yummy after getting home from cardio sculpt last night.  I will put less water and more meat and veg in next time though!  I’m excited about tonight’s meal–Meatza Pie and our appetizer feast for the Superbowl on Sunday!  Will definitely have to remember to take some pics to post!

Things I’m learning:  Rest is good.  God is good.  Sleep is good.  Working hard all week (even on Saturdays) makes Sunday Sabbath’s even more sacred and important.  And cleaning the house on Saturday night before Sabbath is even better so you aren’t distracted by mess and wanting to keep working.  That happened last week and I just took a nap.

Interesting quote/Scripture:We must wait for God, we must be awake, we must trust in his hidden action within us.” From Merton’s Palace of Nowhere by James Finley, found in my devotional book this week.  “Refuse to waste energy worrying, and you will have strength to spare.” Another one from this devotional that my dear friend is also using.  Much love Viv!

Hope you’ve had a great week!  Happy Weekend!