A New Year

A new year means new beginnings, right? I really don’t feel the need to establish 2016 as a year to start over, but more to continue what I’ve already started.

I started off on the right foot today. Figuratively and literally. I really wanted to find a race to run today, to establish myself in 2016. So I found a New Year’s 5k in the city, run at Lincoln Park Zoo. And off I went.


The path was pretty icy, so when I say there was a lot of fancy footwork involved, I’m not kidding! I really need to work on taking more pictures. Maybe that should be a goal for the new year. Anyway, because of the rough footing, it was also a little more taxing on the knee than I would like, but I finished. Running. And running strong! And I’m still standing! I only had to walk a couple times to let the knee chill, then it was fine. So I’m happy and I’ll take it!

I’d also like to add, Nike Pro rocks! When I was back in Iowa for Christmas, we went shopping and hit up the Nike Outlet store in Des Moines. I got a couple Nike Pro Hyperwarm base layer tops. They are so warm! I layered one under my Under Armor Cold Gear half-zip, and was perfectly comfortable. I wore one under a standard issue Nike running top the other day, and that kept me plenty warm as well. Now I’m on a mission for a pair of their tights!

My daughter and I joined a gym yesterday also. Have been thinking of that for a number of reasons. I kept telling myself I could just do body workouts at home, but I know I’m not doing all I should be doing. I know I’ll utilize the gym more and get more strength training in, which I really need. We joined a full service gym, complete with indoor pool, so she’s going to help me with swimming and maybe, just maybe, I’ll participate in a mini tri this year as well. We’ll see. It’s a long term goal, so if not this year, that’ll definitely be on the calendar next year at some point.

I realize we are only on day 1, but I feel great about where I am. Physically and mentally. I’m maintaining my focus, and staying positive. Life sure is good!

Be content with what you have. Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

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.

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

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

  
 

Giving Thanks

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. ~Saint Basil

As I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately (ok, a lot overwhelmed!), and just generally out of sorts, I decided I really need to take a moment to assess my situation. Starting with the blessings in my life. It’s so cliche, I know, but with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided I’d start with all the things I’m so very thankful for.

  • Of course, there’s the usual family and friends that I know I can always count on.
  • My dogs, that although they can require a lot of attention, I know they will love me always.
  • Two good legs that allow me to be physically active and run, even if I do have to rest now and again.
  • A healthy body that keeps me going.
  • A roof over my head that I can call my own.
  • A job that pays the bills (ok, two jobs).
  • Opportunities to see the world, that I may not otherwise have.
  • The knowledge to allow me to obtain a degree and be anything I set my mind to.

The list could go on endlessly. But the key basics are there. I know the next month will be a crazy one. My work schedule is a lot to handle. And with everything else, I know it will be tough. I’m so frustrated with the commercialization and want to really focus on what’s most important. Time with family and friends. And appreciating every moment. Living life and loving it!

Livin the Dream

Way back a couple months ago when I started physical therapy, my physical therapist and I were talking about general stuff. You know, like what do you do for a living, family, etc. Typical small talk.

I wish I could remember exactly how he worded it. But he said he had a friend or someone that when asked about life, would respond with “Living the dream… just someone else’s dream” or something to that effect. In other words, dripping sarcasm. Not really living the dream at all, at least not the way they envisioned it.

So it was kind of a joke. Every day when I would go to physical therapy, he’d ask how it was going, and my response “You know, just living the dream.” But I’m not really living the dream at all. At least not what I had envisioned for myself.

But that’s changing.

Going back to high school, I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I always loved math, but couldn’t see myself majoring in math in college. I just couldn’t see myself as a teacher, and didn’t know what else I would do with a math degree. So I went for accounting. And I hated it!

Last night, I had a meeting with my Money Man (what I affectionately call my financial adviser). I was talking to him about going back to school and he asked what my plans were. When I told him math, he said there’s so much more you can do with math than being a teacher! I wish I had someone to tell me that 25 years ago!

I find it so ironic that after all these years, I’m going back to school for the degree that I always wanted. I met with a college counselor on Saturday, and have been getting everything lined up to start in January. Stressful, for sure, but I know it’ll provide the challenge I need right now.

I really have no complaints about my life. I’m very thankful for what I have. And I appreciate all that I have been given. But that doesn’t mean I just want to maintain status quo. I’m still young, and I’ve got plenty of time to improve, to challenge myself. I love my job. I love the travel industry. But I also decided 4 years ago when going through my divorce that I never wanted to depend on anyone else ever again. I can take care of myself. And I want to be able to do a better job of it. And push myself.

So right now? Now it’s time for me to start livin’ the dream. Livin’ the REAL dream!

Anticipation

The answer to the big questions in running is the same as the answer to the big questions in life: do the best with what you’ve got. ~Unknown

I meant to write this post last weekend, but time has a way of escaping me now days. So here I am. Tomorrow is my first big race.

 
A lot of you may be thinking 15k is really no big deal. And maybe even for me it isn’t. I mean, I ran 9.3 miles once already just in my daily run. But that was once. And before I had to take time off for my foot problem. I’ve been a little nervous about it since then, but not at the same time. It is what it is. It’s not like I’m racing for time, or to compete. I’m running for me. To accomplish something I set out to do. And how I get there isn’t at all important to me, just that I do.

Last Saturday, I was debating what to do with my run. I had already worked back up to 5 mile runs, but I really felt I needed to push myself. Prove that I could log more than that before going for 9+ this weekend. I settled on a 7 mile run. It was fine, my foot hurt a bit, but I survived. If I could make it through 7, I can manage 9.3.

This week, I’ve just been trying to find the balance between letting my foot rest, and logging some miles to keep me moving. Just enough, but not too much. Hopefully I’ve done ok, and will be good to go tomorrow. My foot feels fine today, so that’s always a good thing.

So, onward and upward. I may not run my best race, but I will run the best race I can tomorrow. It’s going to be a beautiful day!

Thoughts on Weight Loss vs. Healthy Habits

I haven’t talked too much about my weight issues and weight loss journey here yet. I know I’ve mentioned it a few times but that’s about it. Eventually, I would like to write about it a little more in depth. But for now, I have this one thought.

I don’t think I’ve ever really discussed actual numbers with anyone. And now, I will throw it all out there for anyone and everyone to see. Talk about feeling vulnerable. At my highest high, I was over 250 lbs. Yes, I’m close to 5’10”, but that number should not have ever been reflected on my scale. I don’t know the exact number, after you reach a certain point you kind of stop paying attention to the exact figures. Out of embarrassment. Or maybe denial.  I can tell you the very first time I joined Weight Watchers, I was 241 lbs. and had lost approximately 10 on my own before I joined. (actually that wasn’t the first time I joined, but the first time I really committed to it)

When I was on that journey, I had an ultimate goal of 150 lbs. I plugged along and got down to about 165, give or take. I felt great! Once I got there, I had decided I was perfectly happy with myself and my weight at that point, that I decided I didn’t need to be 150. And I didn’t.

And that’s when I stopped trying. And that’s when I started gaining again. I tried getting back to Weight Watchers. I knew the program worked, if you worked with the program. But I wasn’t in it. My heart wasn’t there. I was spending money, going to meetings, just to step on their scale. But I wasn’t trying.

I had some ups and downs after that. Stress mostly. Ok, it was all stress. And anxiety. Not a recommended way to lose weight, by the way. And certainly not long term. At least I would hope your stress level isn’t such that it would be long term.

And this takes me to the beginning of this year. I had finally decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. But it was different this time. Instead of focusing on eating whatever I want, within a set number of points, I focused on WHAT I was eating. I started focusing on the health and nutrition and everything I put in my body. I got back to running. And I was in it for the overall health and fitness. And I was in it for the long haul. And I was doing it for me.

I counted calories for just the first couple months until I got my bearings. I needed some sort of concrete goal to strive for, to get the ball rolling. I was looking at calories, while also focusing on what those calories were in. 250 calories of fish and salad instead of 250 calories of pizza. You get the idea. And I started avoiding those things that cause me problems, abdominal pain mostly. It’s so incredibly amazing how satisfied our bodies feel when we are putting in the right ingredients. I found myself not needing as much when I was eating just what I needed. I wasn’t even hungry. And it made all the difference.

Again, when I started, I set my goal at 165, since I had been there before, and I knew I would be perfectly happy and ok with that number. And it’s just a number anyway. Just one part of an overall equation. Health is about so much more than the number on the scale, but it gives a good guideline.

I accomplished that goal. I continued to eat healthy, and run. I was just continuing what I had started, and focused on making good choices every day. I wasn’t depriving myself of anything, just listening to my body. This morning, I stepped on the scale, and for the first time since I graduated High School, I saw 1-5-0.

Let me take you back a few years. I don’t know how I remember this, but I do. I guess it just goes to show how I’ve always been slightly obsessed with my weight. But all through high school I was 147 lbs. I don’t know why. But it seemed every year when we had to weigh in the Spring and Fall, I was 147. Maybe that’s just the number I remember because that’s where I was most, but that’s always stuck in my head. So I probably hit 150 shortly after graduation, and kept on going.

If you haven’t figured out yet the point of this post, I’ll spell it out. 🙂 Health is all encompassing. There is so much to it, and more than just a number on the scale. But the most important thing to remember, is to do the right things for your body. Eating healthy, and moving more, is what’s most important. Losing weight is great. But doing it just to aim for a number on the scale will often set you up for failure. It’s so much more important and successful if you enter with the mindset of being healthy. Make good choices, and do what your body needs. And your body will give you what you want.

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