2015 Year in Review

When I look back at this past year, I’m completely filled with gratitude. If I had to choose one word to summarize 2015, I would say enlightening.

So much has happened this year. So many changes, mostly on a personal level. When I entered the year, I was less than happy with myself. I had let myself get to a point of being somewhat unhappy. And complacent. Although I had so much going for me, a good job, had just bought my own place, I just wasn’t where I wanted to be. Most of that related to my health and fitness. I wanted to get back in shape, but was having a terrible time finding the motivation and will.

During and after my divorce, I had to find the strength to make some much needed changes in my life. I had grown through that period, but a part of me realizes now that I was kind of flying blind. I was going through the motions of what I knew I needed to accomplish. I glossed everything over, and plowed through, looking for what was on the other side. But I wasn’t fully processing everything along the way, and I didn’t realize that there was so much more to be done. I thought once I came through that period, everything would be ok. Magic. That’s where I got complacent. But life is funny that way. We are constantly growing and changing with the tides.

I’ve experienced so much more growth this year. I set my mind to making changes. I changed my diet. I started running again. I feel fantastic! I lost the weight (for the last time!) and I’ve been keeping it off just by being mindful of my choices. I’ve set goals for myself, and kept them.

I got in front of a camera for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many years. Like, a real camera. Not just selfie’s with a cell phone. 🙂 And from a photographer that has spent so many years hiding behind one, it was time to practice what I preach. (And I’m gonna preach… get out there and get some pictures taken! Real ones. Do it for yourself and those that love you, just the way you are!)

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I had my first post-divorce relationship, if you’d call it that. And through that process I’ve learned even more. I’ve never been more comfortable and ok with who I am. I have a lot to offer, and either I’ll be accepted and appreciated, or I won’t. But what someone else thinks or feels about who I am or what I have to give, is not reflective of my own feelings. I can only be me, and staying true to who I am is so important. Sometimes friendship is all there is, and that’s ok. I think the biggest lesson here, however, is the importance of honesty. I have no time or tolerance for bullshit (ie people who hide behind lies and dishonesty in any way, shape, or form). At the end of the day, I aim to love the best way I can, treat others the way I want to be treated, show respect and appreciation, forgive when forgiveness is necessary, be honest and open with everyone, including myself, and hope for the best.

I also realized that I need to be challenged. I think running fills a bit of that void. It gives me something to work towards. A sense of accomplishment, too. But I also see the need to be challenged in other areas. I’ve been feeling underutilized at work. I love my job. And I love the industry and what I do. However, I also know that I am capable of so much more. I need something more challenging, more sense of purpose. So I’m going back to school to finish out my associate’s degree and work towards a bachelor’s. I need to feel like I am doing everything in my power to be my best self. And I couldn’t be more excited about it!

So yes, this year has been filled with enlightenment. Realizations that, no matter how much I love everyone else and want them to be happy, ultimately it comes down to doing what’s right for me. Accepting that maybe I don’t have it all figured out. That maybe the best is yet to come. My tag line says it all, I’m still learning to be me. The best me that I can be. One that I’m proud of, regardless of what anyone else wants me to be.

If you have never failed at anything, then you have never reached for a big enough goal. If you only choose goals that are safe, familiar and right, you’ll never stretch far enough to know who you really can become or what you are capable of doing.

To do something different, you will need to be someone different. Decide to leave your safety zone. Move beyond fear of failure to the possibility of authentically and consistently living your truth and creating a bigger life. You have something special. You have GREATNESS within you! ~Les Brown

Bring on 2016!

As I mentioned in recent posts, 2015 brought a lot of changes and awareness on a personal level. Most importantly, learning to accept myself, and accepting the fact that I had never truly grieved and moved beyond my past.

I’ve made a lot of decisions this past year. Accepting who I am today, but also realizing the need to keep pushing myself. To never settle. To always strive for the best.

As I started my workout this morning, the first song to come on Pandora was “I Lived” by One Republic. I’m not sure if I’ve heard the song before, but if I did I never paid attention to the lyrics.

Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall

Hope when the water rises, you built a wall

Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name

Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad

The only way you can know is give it all you have

And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain

Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say
I, I did it all

I, I did it all

I owned every second that this world could give

I saw so many places, the things that I did

With every broken bone, I swear I lived
Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up

And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup

Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain

But until my moment comes, I’ll say

I, I did it all

I, I did it all

 

This. This is what I’m striving for. To live. Fully. To explore. To learn. To grow. And to love everything and every one along the way.

I’m not one for resolutions. But it’s that time of year, and I’ve come to the realization that there are things holding me back. So I have a goal for this week. I have so much “stuff” cluttering my life. Physical stuff. Things I’ve been holding onto because I can’t let it go. Stuff from my past. I used to enjoy scrapbooking, but I can’t bring myself to go through all the memories of the past. And holding onto all the “stuff”, the supplies, is just a reminder to me that I never finished what I started.

I promised to at least complete my daughters baby book, so I’m hoping with my week off work this week, I can finish what I started. Then the stuff goes. And all the things I’ve been holding onto to sell on eBay. It just needs to be gone. I’m looking forward to the freeing feeling so I can stop seeing the reminders. So I can focus on what’s important in my life now. Focusing on running. And school. And the goals I have set for myself. Without the weight of the past.

Hallelujah!

I have so much to be thankful for. This I know. But today’s post starts with some running happiness!

Last week I had decided to start running more, and decided on 3 times per week. I managed all three days, about 2.5 miles give or take. Each day my knee would start hurting about 1 mile in, maybe sooner. I was doing a lot of walking intermixed with the running, still managing to complete the distance I had set out to do. My pace has been between 11-12 min/mile (mid to high 11’s to be honest).

I was ok with that. I told myself I need to take it slow. I don’t want to risk further injuries, or new ones.

Then there was yesterday. I set out for my lunch-time run around work. It’s about the only time I have to run during the week with a 2 job work schedule around Christmas. Again, about 2.5 miles or so. I set out and felt great starting out. Before I knew it, I had gone a mile already, with a pace just over 10 minutes! You have no idea how excited I was! (or maybe you do, either way, I was ecstatic!)

I finished my run. Total distance: 2.88 miles. Average pace: 10:22

Hallelujah! I couldn’t believe I finished it with little pain in my knee! Yes, I felt some minor tenderness, but none of the pinching pain that would sometimes come. With very little walking. And the walking that I did was more because of my breathing than any knee pain. Just trying to build back in this cold air is a bit on my old lungs, but I’ll get there.

Honestly, I think this was the best Christmas present I could wish for. To be able to run again. To know that it would be ok.

This Holiday season has been a lot for me. I’ve been working so much, with little time to breathe. I haven’t been taking the time for myself either. I know I just have to get thru December. But it keeps me humble. I have had so many reminders of the blessings in my life. And so much to remind me not to take things for granted. Life is short, I know that.

All in all, I’m so very happy with everything. So many Christmas Blessings. And my wish for all of you, is that you are blessed beyond measure. In running. In health. And in life.

 
 

Year of Running 2015: On the Move

So I’m still pretty new to this blog thing. I follow a lot of various running magazines/websites on facebook that often link to posts from popular running bloggers. I read one from Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, that linked to her Year of Running post, asking other runners to link up. So I thought this would be fun. So here is my post. My year of running. Especially fun for me since it’s my first official year on the move. I haven’t run a lot of races this year, but hoping to change that in 2016. Click her button below to play along.

Eat Pray Run DC

Best race experience: This would have to be the Health Solutions 8k I ran on the 4th of July. It was my first race distance longer than a 5k, but I pushed myself to the further distance and am so glad I did! I needed it to prove I was capable, and the support along the race route was amazing! Gotta love small-ish town Iowa! 🙂

Best run: My best is probably my longest. I had a 9.2 mile run in August (or maybe it was September?) when I was trying to build mileage for the Hot Chocolate 15k in November. Again, it felt amazing to just be able to prove I could do it. Of course, I then was sidelined with plantar fasciitis.

Best new piece of running gear: This would have to be my lululemon tights. I had been eyeing them for a while, and even bought myself a pair, only to end up returning them because I just couldn’t justify the cost. But my dear, sweet daughter bought them for me for my birthday.

Best running advice you’ve received this year: I honestly don’t know that I’ve received any running advice directly from anyone, just lots of reading on the interwebs. Probably the best advise I’ve read though, is to just keep going, and don’t ever give up.

Most inspirational runner: I don’t really have any one person I find inspirational. I’ve read a lot of inspiring stories that all play a part for me. Otherwise, I try to be my own inspiration.

Favorite picture from a run or race this year: I have two. The first is probably actually my very favorite. This is from my 8k, and the first race I ran for a medal. Yes, I’ll admit, I’m in it for bling. 🙂 And it was just an overall amazing day and race for me, physically and mentally.

The second is from the Hot Chocolate 15k. You’ll probably notice I wasn’t running. This is where I injured my knee, and had to walk the last 2 miles. But I was determined to finish. I like this picture though, because it keeps me humble, and reminds me to take things slow and be patient with myself.

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Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Both the Hot Chocolate and the Health Solutions 8k. I loved the experience of the 8k, and would love some vindication at the Hot Chocolate, with a better outcome. And, well, chocolate! 🙂

If you could sum up your year in a couple words, what would they be? Enlightening and motivational. I actually have another blog post set to post on New Year’s Eve. A post about my year in review as a whole, not just related to running. And the word I used to describe it was enlightening. I’ve learned so much about myself this year. As a runner, I’ve learned that I’m capable of so much more than I would ever give myself credit for. And to be patient with myself, the best will come in time. As I’ve progressed this past year, I’ve pulled so much motivation from myself. The more I would do, the more I wanted to do. And the more I wanted to succeed. I guess you could also use the word “addicting”. 🙂

I feel like I have grown so much this year in my running. And I even started a race bucket list. Does that make me officially a runner? Can’t wait to see what 2016 brings! (at the very least, two half marathons on my calendar, but hopefully, no more injuries). What are you looking forward to?

 

5 and 1

Forgive me. This is going to be long, personal, and full of pain.

It’s been five years. Anyone that knows me probably knows exactly what happened five years ago today. Anyone that’s read this blog has seen me allude to the events of that time in my life.

April 6, 2011. I came home after picking up my then-husband from work, to be greeted shortly thereafter by a police officer and representative from DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services in Illinois). We were only told there was an investigation, and that he had to leave the house. I was to take both children to the child advocacy center the next day for questioning. At the time, my son had just turned 14, and my daughter just 11.

We were given no information. Don’t ask questions, they said.

In the events of the following 48 hours, I found out my daughter had disclosed abuse at the hands of her father. I was in a fog. I was in denial. I was hurt. But nothing prepared me for the pain to follow.

Two days later, they came and took my children and placed them into a foster home. So much I won’t go into now. I could write a book. Yes, I made some mistakes. I panicked. And for those that don’t know, you aren’t allowed to make choices, or God forbid mistakes, when DCFS is involved. (So how, then, do children die at the hands of abusive parents, even when DCFS has been called to investigate? Don’t even get me started on THAT!)

DISCLOSURE: To avoid any accusations, and in the interest of full disclosure, I have to state that he still claims his innocence, and was acquitted of all charges by a jury.

This is one of my character flaws at times. No matter what I have been through or what it has caused me, I will always give somebody the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t deserve it. I will always treat people with kindness. I will always do the right thing as best as I can. I will say, whole-heartedly, I believe everything my daughter said. I have seen too much pain, been through too much with her, to feel any other way.

When all hell broke loose, there was a time I clung to whatever I could. Whatever was left. The only thing I knew. That which I was comfortable with. I quickly realized though that I had to leave that comfort zone. I knew I was going to face challenges. But it was time to do what needed done.

For the past 5 years, I have struggled. Trying to figure out how or where I went wrong. Feelings of intense pain. Guilt. Feelings of acceptance. Forgiveness. Finding joy and happiness where there seems to be nothing but hurt and sadness.

Only during the past year have I really felt like I’ve moved past it. I realized over the course of the year that I never truly processed the pain. The divorce. I did what I had to do. I pushed through and accomplished what I needed to do for my daughter. I went from a stay-at-home mom, to a full-time working mom, supporting myself. And right back into Mom mode, having to work through everything with my daughter.

Let me tell you, as a parent, there is no greater pain than seeing the intense pain of your child. I didn’t have time for myself. I spent two solid years worrying and hurting for her.

But this past year was different. She is doing fantastic, all things considered. And I’ve been able to take care of myself. And find what truly makes me happy.

In running, I have found an outlet. A stress relief. A time for myself. A few months ago, it occurred to me that I started running almost to the day of the events of 2011. My first run this time around was on April 5, 2015. Maybe I knew. I needed to revisit that outlet.

You see, I started running back in 2012 also. Before my daughter moved back home. And even after, she was in school during the week, and I worked weekend nights, so I had a lot of time on my hands during the weekdays. After I changed jobs, however, things were more difficult. Scheduling was more complicated. I was working a regular day job, and adjusting to a new schedule.

But this time, it was different. I was focused more on improving myself. Taking care of myself. And through that process, I learned about myself. I learned to love and accept myself, first and foremost. Faults and all. I learned to care less what other people think. To stay true to myself. I know the right people will love and accept me for who I am, regardless of my faults and failures.

I know we are all unique and different in our own way. I found running to be a great outlet for me, as I know several other people have. But I also know it’s not for everyone. What’s important, is that you find something. Especially when you are going through a stressful, painful time. Whether it’s swimming, running, biking. Or even non-fitness related, like art. Painting, photography (which also helped me immensely), drawing. Something. I don’t expect everyone to follow the same path, make the same choices as I have. I only ask for support for my choices. And I, likewise, will support anyone in the choices they feel best for themselves.

Running also helped me to cope with being alone, when I had no one to turn to, no one to lean on. Before all my friends and family get on me about that statement, I know I had people, to an extent. But it’s different. When the one person you had to talk to every day, about everything, is suddenly out of your life, there is no other person you feel you can talk to. Not every day. At least not for me. I had to find a way to cope. To fill that void. For a long time, even though I seemingly had all the time in the world, I still had none. So much driving to visits. Working. Court. Counseling. It seemed to be never ending. But there always came a time, when I needed something to fill my time.

For a while I focused on scrapbooking. I can’t do it anymore. It was good at first, when I didn’t have my kids, it gave me something to focus on them. But now, I can’t go back. That’s part of my moving on. I still have all the photos, all the memories, when I’m ready to relive those moments. But for now, that part of me is gone. So the focus became fitness. And running. The one thing that has always been there for me in some way.

Part of me can’t believe I’ve actually stuck with it for an entire year. But that’s part of my growth. It’s become a part of who I am. And I can’t imagine it any other way.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned so much. Not only loving myself, but I’ve learned to be alone and love that too. I always said I’d like to find someone else, but I was perfectly ok and happy doing things on my own. But now, 5 years later, I feel like I can finally accept the fact that I don’t have to. I never thought I could be this happy. But I’ve found a place. A sweet spot. And I love every bit and piece of my life. I’m happier than I ever thought possible.

So here’s to several more years. Of running and racing. Living and loving. Healthy. Happy.

Moving On

Today is a fabulous day! Because I say so.

 

So yesterday, I went out on my lunch for a short run as I promised myself I would. It’s about the only time I have to run, so I brought running clothes to work, and managed 2 miles. My knee bothered me some, but I was able to run through it with some walking, but overall I was very happy.

So today, the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series is having a big sale. If you’re a runner type, you probably already know that! So what did you all sign up for? I’m already signed up for the Half in San Diego, but I really want to run Chicago also since I’m right here. I’m just not sure if I should run another half just a month after San Diego, or just go for the 10k. Of course, I know me, and if I sign up for the 10k I’m going to regret it. After all, it IS only 6 miles. 😀 So I think I’m going to go for the half… a month in between should be ok for me, as I have plenty of time to build back up my long runs. As long as I take it slow through this winter.

Also yesterday, I took my big math placement test for college. I tested into Pre-Calculus, which makes me very happy. I have 4 weeks to retake the test if I want to try for a better score to get into a higher level class. Part of me wants to just start with Pre-calc to give me more base and practice. However, those classes are not going to be as easily transferable, and since I plan to transfer for a bachelor’s at another institution, I’m thinking of shooting for a better score so I can jump in with Calculus, which will transfer more easily.

Regardless of what I decide on the math front, I can’t tell you how excited I am to start back to school. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the practice lessons I’ve been doing, and forgotten how much I love math. It just goes to show, follow your heart’s desire. I wanted to major in math way back when I graduated high school and I didn’t because I wasn’t sure where it could possibly take me. Now I know there are options out there. Part of me wishes I had the faith then that I do now, and had just taken that step. Better late than never!

So I’m moving on, and focusing on how I want to continue my life’s journey. Every step along the way gets us where we need to go. And I may not have any idea how this will all look in the end, but I have complete faith that it’ll be everything I could possibly hope for, and more.

If you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here. ~Paulo Coelho

Progress and Goals

So today I made it through my run. For the first time since my Hot Chocolate fiasco. And can I just say, 50+ degrees in December? Yes, please!

It felt great. And I realized something yet again. As long as I take my time, and let my body go slow, I can do it. I tend to push my body too much too fast at the beginning because I feel no pain, but then it starts to hurt to the point of not being able to run at all. 

As long as I stick to the intervals, regardless of how fantastic I feel at the beginning, I can make it all the way through. Yes, my knee was hurting a little bit during the running intervals in the last half, but it’s minor enough to be able to run through it. Again I must be patient. But I will be back to myself soon enough. 

Which brings me to my goals. I think I’m to the point where taking more time off is going to do more harm than good. And mentally, I just need it. To be back out there. To get that joy back. 

I need to start getting back to my groove of running more regularly. I’m not sure twice a week is enough, so I’m aiming to run 3 times per week. I should be able to fit that in, even with my crazy work schedule. It will probably mean a couple lunch runs during the week, but it’s possible. And I’m ready!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein

Blessings in Disguise

I have so many things in life to be thankful for. And every day I’m reminded of how lucky I am. 

I do get discouraged sometimes. And I’m so overwhelmed. I feel myself literally sinking and constantly pulling myself back up for air. It’s all part of the process and I know it’s temporary. I’ll get there eventually. 

I’m reminded in many ways of how sometimes the very things that stress me out are true blessings. I’m still not really back to running. Me knee still hurts when I try. But it’s ok. I don’t really have the time right now anyway. A true blessing. I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to make time for something that I truly can’t fit into my life right now. And it’s forcing healing time that my body needs. 

Today is my daughters sixteenth birthday. She wanted to spend the day at a spa. I wish I could afford to give her more here, but the facial and pedicure was enough. I’m just honored that she wanted to spend it with me. And she appreciates what I can do. It was just what I needed too. Some much needed time to relax. 

If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten