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Running

4th of July race in Cedar Rapids

Though I’ve announced I’ll soon end my tutoring “career,” I’m continuing with my brave adventures. Wish the weather would cooperate.

I’ll soon be back out on the trails, taking those long walks, getting back into some sort of running shape so I can tackle a 10K this year. A year ago I said I’d do a different length race each year. I’ve done plenty of 5Ks so there is no challenge left there (I guess if I cared about speed, I could work on that, but I don’t). After completing a 10K, I’m looking at a pretty big milestone for this late-in-life runner…in the year I turn 60, I want to run a half-marathon. Some would say I’m stupid (that may be the voice in my head, I’m not sure)…I choose to say I’m being brave.

To me, bravery is facing the giants in our lives…no matter if they are just in our heads. What do I fear? What do I see as insurmountable? What do I see as impossible? Do I allow my age to hold me back from potential adventures? Do I think it’s too late to try some new things? Not yet.

I’ve got a few things in the works to stretch my “fear factor” but I’m not going to allow the argument “I’ve never done this before” to be the deciding factor. Now, I’m not silly. I know my limitations physically. I won’t be taking up any extreme sports or gladiator challenges. Not yet anyway.

I hope you are cheering on those around you who are venturing out of their comfort zones to take up new exploits. My inner cheerleader shouts encouragement when I see my friends stand up and go forth and conquer fear.

I hope YOU are taking up new things. Maybe it’s beginning a fitness program, or letting go of an addiction, or learning a new skill. Don’t allow fear or insecurity keep you from reaching out and grabbing all that God has in front of you to do. I’ll be cheering you on!!

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Trail through woodsMy top 10 list of things to do this time of year:

10) Clean out my closet. I’m so tired of sweaters. Though I could wear boots year-round, I am looking forward to wearing sandals, or at least no socks! Now is a great time to sort through those clothes and shoes you didn’t wear over the long winter and donate to Salvation Army. Or make a little extra money by using Stuff Etc. Beware though – your consignment items need to be in very, very good condition to be accepted.

9) Trying a new restaurant. I enjoy going to new places any time of year, but there is something about spring that gives me extra bravery to try a different cuisine. I’m still waiting to try good Thai or Indian food. I do have someone who’s willing to go with me, so I just need to set the date.

8) Clean my windows. I actually enjoy cleaning my house windows, inside and out, when the weather is nice, and I can open everything up. Feels like a fresh start.

7) Move the furniture around. Another fresh start. Just don’t do it right before going to bed because you may end up stubbing your toes on the couch in the middle of the night. “Who moved that there?” I have some new furniture than only fits a certain way in my living room, so I’m going to have be extra creative this year.

6) Re-connecting with friends. The winter was treacherous. Lots of ice and snow kept most of us inside unless we absolutely had to go out. But now that that yucky stuff is gone, time to make some coffee dates with friends I haven’t seen since late fall. I may not be drinking caffeine, but most coffee shops offer herbal alternatives. And scones.

 

5) Fresh music playlist. I’ve listened to the same playlist all winter so time to change it up. Spotify makes it very easy to find whatever I want to listen to and create a playlist that I can access any time. Made a Lenten worship one the other day and loving it.EFY_2015_1

4) Running. I do not run in the winter. I’m old enough that recovery from a fall on ice or snow would be long and arduous, but come spring time, I’m ready to hit the trails again. I upload my C25K app (again) and start fresh with Day 1. Doesn’t take too long to get back into the swing of it. “You don’t need to go fast, you just need to go.”

3) Baseball is back. Cubs fan. That is all.

2) Long walks outside. I walk every day. If the weather is lousy, I walk during my lunch hour within my block-long office building or I hit the downtown sky walk system. If I include a parking deck or two, I can get three miles in over the hour. But once spring weather comes in, I love walking outside. The new playlist in my earbuds, my comfy boots or shoes, an occasionally muddy spot, blue skies, gentle (or blustery) breezes…recharges my battery and lifts my moody. Every time.

1) Easter. I don’t decorate in pastels, and bunnies, and eggs. Well, truthfully, I don’t decorate in much of anything, but for me Easter isn’t about all of that. Easter is THE holiday in my life. I take this time of year to reflect on the magnitude of this great thing – Christ Jesus gave His life on a brutal cross to take my sin so I could have eternity with Him in heaven. Easter isn’t just about the cross – it’s also about the tomb. He died for us, yet He rose again, victorious over sin and darkness. That is why Easter is so important…why it’s number one on my list.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

He Is Risen

Happy Spring! Happy Easter!

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I know I am a blessed woman. I’m so grateful for the many friends I’ve made throughout my life…the many places I’ve visited…the many opportunities I’ve had to travel, work, play, serve and enjoy life. I have thousands of pictures in my head of places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and memories I’ve made.

My view of my world includes:

  • That breathlessness in my chest when I walked up the steps to see the grassy field and ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field for the first time. I stood in quiet wonder as people swarmed in and out, beer and cotton candy vendors selling their wares. Definitely a forever picture.
  • The magnificence of El Capitan and Half Dome,Half_Dome_distance the gurgling waters of streams rolling through the forests, the blackened trunks of burnt pine trees, and the awe-inspiring heights of sequoia trees – all this kept me snapping almost 400 iPhone photos on my week’s vacation visiting my first national parks.
  • Looking out my plane window to see the Grand Canyon spread out in all its glory below me. What a great view I had from 15,000 feet! Couldn’t get a stamp for my new national park passbook, but I should did get a pretty good picture!Phoenix_race
  • The view of the finish line as I ran the last hundred yards of my half-marathon relay with my brother in Phoenix, holding hands over our heads as the emotion of the moment overwhelmed me.

Also:

  • My first glimpse of my nervous bridegroom waiting for me at the end of the church aisle.
  • Crying as I hold my first-born son in my arms after a very traumatic labor and delivery, his brown eyes staring up at me.
  • My throat closed with emotion as I hold my second-born son, after his non-emergency C-section turned into a few anxious moments….once again, looking into sleepy deep brown eyes.
  • Looking out over my classmates during our high school graduation in that little gym in Durand many years ago, excited to think that my life was about to change forever but having no idea how much.
  • The indescribable views from the top of the Arch in St. Louis, the pinnacle of the Washington Monument, the basket of a hot air balloon, the viewing platform at the summit of Pikes Peak and tramway ride up to the crest line of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico.Sean_strech
  • Some of my favorite moments are just normal, everyday sights…like looking out my kitchen window while I did the dishes, watching my kids play in our backyard. Or the misty view of David’s back as he heads off on one of his many trips to places around the world. Or recognizing Sean’s signature stretch before he steps into the batter’s box.Grandpa_boys_lawnmower Or looking through our bookcase for a naptime story. Or watching my dad take his grandkids for rides on the John Deere lawnmower.

But my favorite view and the one for which I’m most grateful is my view forward…into the continuing journey I have ahead of me. It isn’t always clear but I know it will be full of fun and adventure. I don’t regret any of my past experiences but I desire to be intentional in looking ahead…always onward!

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Finish Well

I ran another 5k last weekend. It wasn’t very fun…at least not the running part. It was hot and already 100% humidity at 8 a.m. One of my good friends was running also. Alanna’s a different class of runner than I am. She loves the long stuff…8-10 mile training runs are nothing for her. She’s a beautiful and godly woman who I have known for over 10 years. When we first met, Alanna was very shy and quiet. She was hesitant to share her opinion, but very willing to help in any way. She’s a great wife and mother and in recent years, has grown into leadership abilities I would guess she never thought she had.

On Saturday I noticed her confidence. She has found her place and she walks in it with assurance. She has grown and matured and, though she’s still quiet, she isn’t afraid to speak up and share her advice and encouragement.

We had a nice time getting reacquainted prior to the start of the race but I knew once the race began, I would be eating her dust. And I was totally ok with that!

The race began and I took off at my normal pace…slow. The weather conditions were ugly. I’ll take running in rain or snow over heat and humidity any day. The route was well marked but I knew I was in trouble when I had to stop and walk at the first mile mark. Though I’m not fast, I can usually run the whole 3.2 mile distance. But by mile two, I was struggling to run more than a half mile at a time. I knew my time was shot but I was moving forward and making little goals along the way.

I always have my run app going through my phone so every half-mile I’d hear the app’s voice tell me how far I’ve gone, how long it’s taking me and my pace. It helps me realize how far I have left to go. At mile three I knew I only had two-tenths of a mile and I was determined to gut it out. There was a turn in the course ahead of me so I assumed the finish line was just around the corner. Then I saw my friend Alanna coming toward me. She met me saying, “I’m going to run you in.” It was then I realized I had further to go than I thought. As we turned the corner I saw more than a quarter mile left to go.

I can’t describe how discouraged I became at that moment. Physically I really didn’t think I could do it. I knew I could walk it in, but Alanna was running alongside me and, to be honest, I didn’t want to disappoint her. I wanted to finish well…or as well as I could. I felt sick, my legs were rubber, I was panting, almost gasping, and sweat was dripping in my eyes. I was literally “a hot mess.” But I prayed “God, just get me home,” and with Alanna’s verbal encouragement and physical presence, I dug a little deeper and ran across the finish line.

My time was awful – but that wasn’t the important lesson. Here are my takeaways:

  • Train hard. It’s the everyday journey through life that prepares you for those sudden races that occasionally pop up.
  • Run your own race. It doesn’t matter where you are in comparison to other runners. You are the best “you” there can ever be. Be good with it.
  • Don’t believe the voice in your head. Keep your eyes and ears on the truth. My app was “off” on the distance of the 5k and I had put my whole mindset on its veracity. When I realized I had more to go, I was so discouraged. Run using the sign posts along the way – the Word of God is your sign post. Let it be your training manual for your own race.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, when you are confident and secure in your race, go back and encourage someone else along the way. Alanna’s voice and presence brought me in. Without her, I probably would have dropped back to a walk which was a failure in my mind. Be the coach, cheerleader, mentor, leader – whatever term you prefer – to bring others along toward their finish line.

The times we live in are getting hotter, tougher, harder…We need each other so we can all finish well.

By the way, I got first place in my age division…I was the only one in it! One more life lesson: There are no other runners in your race. As long as you show up and finish, YOU WIN!

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It’s July 2nd…a good day to look back on the first 6 months of the year. Or maybe not. Should have done it yesterday…July 1st. Better for my latent OCD. I mean really, who logically starts something on the 2nd of anything? So my “new thing” is doing something illogically and out of the norm for me. Convoluted arguments with myself. That’s actually pretty normal for me.

Back to the purpose of this – a self-evaluation of my 2015, part 1. I don’t really have year-long goals. Too easy to cop out and forget about them. I try for month-long goals…better for my short-term memory. Was going to make May my “watch movies I wish I’d already seen” month – didn’t happen. Something always comes up that seems more fun than sitting in front of the TV for a couple of hours. I still have the stack of DVDs in the living room (I’m sure they’ll remain there until Christmas) but summer is no time to hunker down in the house when the sun doesn’t set until 9 p.m. And by 9:01 I’m exhausted and ready for bed.

I am doing well on my 90-days-through-the-Bible challenge. One-third of the way and still on track. I tell myself that I can’t read anything else until I’ve read my Bible. It’s working so far.

I’m also still running…well, running, then walking, then running, then walking, and finishing with running. Still not very fast. But I do somewhat enjoy the discipline and feel so much better after getting in a 2-mile run. And I try to participate in 5K races periodically to keep myself out there. I won’t win anything except the finisher’s medal but that works for me.

Some of the “new things” I’ve tried have been successes – meaning I’ve made them part of my lifestyle now. Like edamame…delicious. Giving blood – do it every 8 weeks now (first time was last November after years – literally years – of being afraid. Silly me). Fitbit – addict. Found out I’m more competitive than I thought. New restaurants – I’m committed to trying new places because I’m tired of seeing the same menus at every place I eat. This is not a hardship, by the way. Downtown Cedar Rapids has a plethora (new word – try that every day too) of eating establishments and I’m not opposed to giving each of them a try at least once. Support local eateries people! The McDonalds, Olive Gardens, Red Robins, and Chilis will survive without your support – but there is so much more to experience.

I’m reading a new blog every day. It’s called Leadership Freak. Exceptional. Give it a try – even if you are the only person you’re leading.

By the way, a new friend recently shared a document on her Facebook page that I thought was awesome. So I’m sharing it here. It’s called “Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up.”

Second half goals: volunteer more, complain less. Stay out of arguments that won’t matter the next day. Build people, not walls. Love more, fear less. Keep trying new things to stretch my comfort zone into the 3XL range. I may even pick up my guitar again.

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Not exactly Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but my weekend is going to be tremendous. And because it will be so amazing, I started it a day early. If you’ve read any of my blogs (don’t do it now – in fact, find some better reading material for yourself. Dr. Seuss comes to mind), you know that I’ve been trying to get beyond my little world and explore things I’ve never done, or said I’d never do, during the month of April. Well – today’s April 30th. Do or die day.

There were a bunch of things on my list that I never got to. Eyebrow waxing, for one. It can wait. In fact, seems the thick eyebrow look is trending right now and I’d hate to bring it down. I also never got to a Zumba class. Tried to find a DVD for in-home use, and the local public library is woefully lacking in the Zumba category, as in…none. This naturally segues into my desire to learn how to bake bread. The library does have how-to books on bread making, but since both Don and I are watching our calories this month, it is a good thing it never happened. Just the thought of homemade cinnamon rolls causes ninja pounds to jump on my scale. I wanted to pick up garbage along the nature trail, serve lunch at a homeless shelter (actually – I have done this, just not in April), and eat veggies only on Meatless Mondays. Didn’t do any of these either. Nope, nada, zilch. But now I have a great list started for another month of “new things.”

What I DID accomplish – shorter list, but felt good, nonetheless.

Ran another 5K – through Hiawatha – finished 6th in my age group (though I was bested by two women in their 60s). Still work to be done here. My running adventure will continue.

Signed up for a public display of an art piece. Scary. I’m not an artist but I decided to go for it. It’ll be on display in Cedar Rapids’ NewBo district through the summer. Thankfully my name is only on the back so no one will really know which one is mine, except for you guys, since I’m posting a picture. Don’t tell.

2x2xU My Tree

Ate fish tacos for the first time. So good. Proceeded to make them at home. Very good. I’m a believer.

Had an authentic Chocolate-stuffed Almond Croissant from Croissant du Jour. Well, part of one. Which was probably a good thing since it was awesome and I’m sure it had more calories than I’m allowed in a week. I will definitely do that one again and take my guy.

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Lastly, today in fact, I tried sushi for the first time. My two wonderful girls took me. They are old hands at sushi selecting and eating so I knew I would be safe. I specifically asked for one selection to be raw fish, because really, why brag about eating sushi if it’s all just rice rolled around a vegetable? Where’s the bravery in that? So one was raw salmon, one was shrimp & yam, and another was crab-something. All delicious! We had great crab rangoons too – creamy REAL crab filling – hot and oozy. Swoon-worthy. I’d definitely recommend Sushi House to anyone wanting the sushi experience without a huge price tag. My favorite part? Having Tristen and Ellie with me to explore this new thing together. They are beautiful women and I love them.

I’m certainly noticing a trend in these last few paragraphs. I seem to like food. A lot. But I guess if I keep running and working out at Curves, I’ll be okay with it.

So my big weekend continues tomorrow…road trip to Ames to see my boy. I’m expecting a superhero or two to show up, along with more good food. Of course.

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Today has been a glorious day! After what has seemed like a never ending winter, spring appears to be in sight. With temps in the 40s and 50s, it was wonderful to be able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Even with melting snow and slush covering sidewalks and streets, I couldn’t wait to get on a trail and get out for a run. While doing a few walking/running intervals I realized I had a perfect analogy for today’s “giving up for Lent” blog.

Sometimes I get in a routine and don’t really pay attention to what is going on around me. I’m going through the motions but not truly investing myself in the experience. It’s like running on a treadmill versus running outside on a trail. The treadmill gets the job done – you’re doing what you need to do – but it gets boring. Unless you’re moving the treadmill every morning, you’re looking at the same wall each time. Maybe you have a fancy one and you can program it for hills and valleys. Maybe you can watch TV or read a book while you’re running. I don’t think it matters. You aren’t fully invested in the total experience that running can give you.

No matter how many bells and whistles, your treadmill cannot give you what a good outdoor run can. You cannot imitate the sounds of the cardinals in the trees, the sight of deer and bunnies along the trail, the apprehension each time you jump over puddles, the smiles you give and receive to fellow runners or dog walkers. There’s no way to duplicate the sunshine reflecting off the melting snow or the feeling of damp, cold air on your face.

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Let’s shake off the winter doldrums and become fully invested in spring. No more going through the motions of living. Instead, decide to be fully present in the moment.

Give the people near you your complete attention.

Listen to their stories.

Laugh at their jokes.

Smile at each person you encounter today.

Notice things.

Study something new.

Observe nature.

Take an adventure.

Discover treasures.

Live big!

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