"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Embracing My Insanity

Okay, this is crazy but I am going to do it anyway. I am going to run the Rock n' Roll St Louis FULL marathon. I cannot believe I would even want to but I really, really do. So that is exactly what I am going to work toward.

This is huge for me in ways hard to describe. I am a nit-picking, self-doubting perfectionist. I have often sabotaged my own accomplishments so I couldn't actually fail due to lack of ability. But even sneakier, I just didn't try someting unless I was almost certain I could finish easily and close to perfection. I did not truly have self confidence.

I have been reading Donald Miller and he talks about "inciting events". Basically, it means unless we have something push us down a hard path we will most likely continue along the comfortable, familiar path we are on. Even if it is a bad path for us, we will continue to plod along the path because it is the path we know. It takes a major event to steer us differently.

Running the half marathon was my inciting event. I am not even sure how I intially committed to it. I believe I was sort of just talking trash but then people found out about it. There were so many times I wanted to quit but continued because too many people knew and I didn't want to admit I was quitting. I am so very glad I didn't. I am so glad I continued to work harder and so above my comfort zone in order to not be humiliated. It changed everything.

Completing that difficult and emotional event finally gave me the self confidence I have been lacking. Failure lost most of its scariness. I now know I can go out and try to accomplish some pretty crazy things and as long as I really try, there is no shame in failure. Actually, there is just alot to be learned.

So now I am challenging myself to the next crazy event, the full marathon. I am going to train hard over the summer. I know it will be another difficult and life changing experience but this time, I am looking forward to it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

But What Do YOU Want?

So this entire post has come from the HGTV show "House Hunters" and a quote from Epicurus. Now how cool, groovy, and esoteric is that?? I am simply fascinated with the ubiquitous fascination of stainless steel appliances on "House Hunters". This couple will walk into a gorgeous kitchen, usually stating they never cook, look around and say, "Oh but the appliances aren't stainless. That is just a deal breaker!". I sit there thinking, "Really??? Why?? Have you tried to keep stainless looking good especially with children? Impossible. THIS is your deal breaker??". It makes no sense. And then the quote from Epicurus, "If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires." All in all some pretty good stuff.

But then I started thinking. What if isn't our desires that cause so much strife and anxiety but the desires that we have been socially conditioned to accept as what everyone should want or more insidious, what the "good life" entails? What if keeping up with the Jones is what is really getting us, and keeping us, down?

I think we can all agree that several decades of relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to keep up with that proverbial family has landed us all into serious hot water. If not you personally, then the country in general. The mindless pursuit of wealth and status has led to a staggering number of foreclosures, respossesions, sky high credit card bills, and bankruptcys. Even more sad, it is has led to divorce, depression, families ripped apart, and suicide. Remember, this is the "good life".

So I challenge you to really think about what you really want. If you take away all the commercials, ads, and adult peer pressure, what would actually make you happy and bring you true peace?

I will tell you what I want. I want a house full of love, laughter, gentleness, and joy. I want my children to run and laugh with abandon inside the house. I don't want no-no rooms or things lying around that would be tragic if they were broken in a game of don't touch the floor.

I don't want an impressively beautiful home. I want a home that is warm, lovely, and quirky. I want you to take off your shoes because you are are comfy and snug not because you might mess something up. I want a home full of hospitality. I hope my home will be the place deep relationships are born and nurtured. A place where you know you can come to laugh, share your joys, cry when your heart is breaking, or lean on a strong shoulder when you just can't do it alone anymore. I don't want it to be a showcase of all my fancy material stuff.

I want a home filled with ideas. I want passionate and lively discussion not zombies in front of a huge flat screen tv. I want books passed around, digested, and dissected. I want to hear arguments over what Shakespeare really meant by....

I want yummy, healthy food. I want friends to stop by for a quick bowl of hearty soup. I want dinner parties full of joy and friendship. Not formal affairs, but casual craziness that finds people on the floor, the couch, the sunroom, wherever.

I want a car that can handle muddy trips to the creek. I see tired babies falling asleep after a day of adventure and exploration. Their dreams are of all the wonderful things they have seen not momma screaming because the precious interior of the car might get dirty.

I don't want a Wii. Nope not at all. I don't want a game system to simulate experiences. I would much rather play tennis with my children, take them bowling, hula hoop with them outside. There is no need to pretend if you really do it. In addition, I want to be active in general. I want long family hikes. I want to play without inhibition on the playground with my children. I want to race together when we are older.

I desperately want my children to know that it is NOT necessary to always give your best and your all to any endeavor. I want them to learn that sometimes good enough IS good enough. I hope they learn that not striving for perfection can be much healthier and leave more time and energy for other things. Be the best all the time often leads to adults desperately overcoming perfection and self confidence issues.

I want my children to be open and willing to try new things and fail gloriously. I want them to try the piano even if they are tone deaf. I want them to understand that parents who scream and berate their children to constantly succeed at all costs are....wrong and sad.

I want a family that love God with all their mind, all the heart, all the strenth, with all their all. I want a house laid back enought to fingerpaint and make paper mache messes, to create. I want a family who shares close bonds, love, laughter, tears, fears, joys, and sorrows without shame or derision. I want friends who are family and family who are friends.

Truthfully, I am extraordinarily bless that I already have most of my wants. Some days are better than others. Some days I get caught up in wanting some nonsense a well paid ad executive told me to want. But most days, this is what I want and I praise God because this is what I have. So I aske you, what do you want?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wow, It is Really Hard

I have been mostly sugar free for..5 days? I am not exactly sure because it has been incredibly hard. If I had any doubts about the insidious nature of sugar, I wouldn't now. I feel like a drug addict going through withdrawals. Well, I guess I am a drug addict going through withdrawals. You know, if it walks like a duck, quacks like duck. Sugar is a drug and a nasty one.

I wasn't going to go completely sugar free until May 1st. I was just cutting out things like ice cream, cookies, cake, and the like right now. Well, it has been so rough I have decided to pull that band aid off immediately. This weekend will find me making homemade granola and some cookies for the kids. We are doing this right now.

My kids, oh my I feel terrible for the amount of sugar I have allowed. I am setting them on a path they will have to fight with for the rest of their lives. We are rectifying that situation right now. I won't make them go completely sugar free. Their natural peanut butter has sugar and the occasional cookie at grandma's is okay but it will be cut down drastically.

Why I have come to these dramatic measures? Since I have quit sugar I have had the shakes, headaches, extreme irritability, and serious fatigue. My energy has plummeted. Anyone who knows me irl would proably say no way. I am one of the most energetic people you will find. I have bottomed out. I am so emotional and downright depressed. It truly has been hard.

But all of that is nothing compared to what I experienced shopping last night. I was shopping for my kids Eeaster baskets. There are some neat things in those baskets, slinkies, kaleidoscopes, sun glasses, books, good stuff. But I decided to get one small thing of M&M's for them both. I went to the candy aisle. Now I am a chocolate snob. I don't eat most candy because I like GOOD chocolate. Ghirardelli will do but Godiva is my preference. So there was surrounded by cheap, yucky candy and I almost had an emotional breakdown from wanting it. I am not joking. I was shaking and broke out into cold sweats. It was somewhat traumatic to realize what this nonfood substance has done to my body. So, no more. I will break this addiction.

On the positive side, my husband is really the greatest husband ever. I have been impossible and he has been nothing but loving, caring, and supportive. He has been compassionate and gentle when I KNOW I have been downright silly. I am truly blessed to have him.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Time Has Come...Sigh

The time has come for me to finally drop the last 15-20lbs. I am not fat. I don't have body issues, finally. But the fact of the matter is 135-140lbs (see I am not even sure) is just too much for my 5'3 extra small frame. I have a bad back from a car accident. Carrying extra weight begs for it to bother me. Plus, my running should even be better with less weight to carry. So, it is time.

I have not concerned myself with it lately. I refused to actually try to lose weight while training for the half marathon. I couldn't do both so I chose the race. But now I have a few months in between races and it is time to actively work on this.

My exercise is fine, beyond fine actually. I refuse to do more because that would be silly. I am active every single day and some days are crazy intense. So you know, there is only one place to change. It has to be done. The diet. I don't mean diet as in restricting calories but diet as in what I eat. I know many people who do not understand why they can't lose extra weight. They exercise but they won't change their eating habits.

And what the normal American eats is scary. It is no wonder obesity is blooming faster than flowers in spring.

Don't believe me? Track your own calories. There are awesome free sites out there to use. I love fitday.com but others swear by Sparks People. I have yet to find someone who was not surprised how many calories and junk they were eating when they accurately tracked their food intake. (So that is what a tablespoon of mayo looks like.)

My approach is simple, a clean, whole foods diet. What I mean by clean is no artificial sweetners, sweetners, preservatives, processed sugar, additives, and the like and organic in many aspects. That is right, no sugar. I have already started by elminating sweets but some of my granola and exercise bars have a low amount of sugar. Come May 1st those are going as well. I will be making homemade granola and finding alternatives. For how long? At least a month, longer if it is going well.

There is a second motive behind this, I am addicted to sugar. I really am and it is, well a rather terrible substance all in all. It is simply not good for you. Living without it completely would make your body very happy.

What I will be eating:
Lean meat but really sparingly
As much fruit as I want
As much veggie as I want either raw, steamed, or roasted with a little olive oil.
Whole Grains
Honey and Maple Syrup, again sparingly
Lower Fat Dairy such as milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese

I think that pretty much covers it. I think this new practice will also result in a break through for my health. I hope to really enjoy this new manner of even better eating and lack the desire to go back. That does happen rather often to me. Once my body felt the benefit, I no longer craved fried foods, most processed foods, etc. So I hope it will do this again.

I am also very excited because this is all happening at the same time as a bunch of new hoop classes and workshops. Couple it with a month of yoga and I am looking at a happy holistic healthy time. Those times always leave me feeling incredibly refreshed and rejuvenated. So there is alot of good in this even if I am no longer going to eat cookies. You just have to look at it the right way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Importance of Being Rested

I am still walking in a cloud of accomplishment and joy from the half marathon. Seriously, what an incredible, amazing experience it was. I think I have a bad case of running sickness. I am considering running the full marathon. Craziness thy name is Karen. I am hooked but I guess there are worse obsessions.

However, it really wrecked my energy. I wasn't nearly as hungry as I thought I would be probably due to the heat. I made myself eat anyway but I am not sure it was enough. On Tuesday, I ran a light 3 miles to stretch my legs. It was awesome for my sore muscles but it was the last straw for my energy. It drained me to almost nothing. I felt I had nothing left to give anyone or anything.

I could have fought it. Maybe I could have filled up on caffeine and sugar. But in the end, I decided to go with it. I have been working towards living much more slowly and intentionally in all aspects of life. For a strong willed, type A personality like myself, that is a tall order. But I am making progress. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to listen to my body and let it tell me what it needed.

It has been wonderful. I have eaten my fill of wholesome, yummy food. I have laughed and snuggled with my beautfiful babies. I have slowly hooped and pushed my children on their swingset. I have relaxed quietly in a chaise lounge and watched my children play. I have savored quiet soul-filling moments with a precious friend. I have rested. I have read. I have taken a much needed break and I feel incredible.

This morning I woke and my energy had returned. But it had brought along a friend, a calm peaceful contentment that fills me and makes me feel as if I am glowing with joy and health. It is truly the best I have felt in months, perhaps years. Who knows how long? Doesn't matter because it is here right here, right now, at this perfect moment.

So I am sitting here drinking my favorite afternoon Darjeeling tea. A new favorite candle made with lime, ginger, and vanilla fills my home with what clean vibrant energy must smell like. My babies are sleeing. Soon Logan will wake and I will curl up with him so he will sleep a bit longer. My warm, precious baby will snuggle as close as he can get to momma and I will know this is what love feels like.

I am rested and it is wonderful. How often to we push past exhaustion until we reach a state that we no longer feel human? How often do we will we MUST get everything on our to do list done or the... what the world will stop spinning?? I think I am going to try very hard to remember the joy, peace, and patience true rest brings me. I am going to try to remember how much a better momma, wife, friend, and woman I am when I have allowed my body to get the rest and healing it needs. It really is truly important.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My First Half Marathon

I did it. I really did it and it still seems unreal to me. Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon, actually my first race of any kind, with a time of 2:15:46. It was one of the hardest and most satisfying things I have ever done. Ever. I am seriously having trouble believing it is real.

I think I was most suprised with my decided lack of nerves the morning of the race. I was pumped up and having a great time. I remember grabbing the hand of my just met the night before new friend Brook's hand so we could wind our way through the insane amount of people to get into our corral. My feeling was more that I was going to a dance party than I was preparing to accomplish something so life changing. I was chatting, playing, and laughing with all those around me. It was crazy fun.

When the race started, I felt this amazing calm come upon me. It took 15 minutes to walk to the start with all the people in front of us. I bent my head in prayer to thank my heavenly Father for the strength, the determination, the ability to do this race. I quickly realized, I was crying! I quietly cried with joy. I thought of all the hard runs, the cold weather, leaving my family so I could "fit in" 8 miles. I thought of all the aches and pain it had brought me. It had been a hard, hard road and there I stood on the brink of fulfillment. I stood (well, shuffled slowly with the crowd) absolutely amazed at what I was about to do.

I am not going to go mile by mile with the technical break down of each mile. I will say those hills were seriously hard. I do believe one was almost a mile long, seriously. All I could do was fix my gaze about 10-15 feet in front of me, focus on my breathing, and just put one foot in front of the next. But however I did it, I made it through.

From the very beginning it was evident to me that I was not going to be forced to struggle through or talk myself into completing this part. Trust me, I have completed many training runs on strength of will alone. But this was different. So I decided that this, like so many things in my life, was going to be an exercise in being present and aware. I am so glad I made that decision. I now have vibrant memories of cheering with crowds as I passed through, the beauty of Soulard's townhomes in the early morning light, the smell of the brewery (okay, maybe I could have done without that one). I remember how my body felt as it warmed up and became loose enough to run a comfortable stride and how it tensed up later and had to relax all over again. One of the fondest memories I will have is really feeling my feet start to hurt and then as I turned the corner I saw an incredible sign held aloft, "The only reason your feet hurt is because of how much butt you are kicking." That gave me energy for a couple of miles.

I really enjoyed running without music. I loved chatting with people and the sense of comraderie. It was immensely enjoyable and lifted my spirits and enabled my feet to fly. It was the best run of my life and I am rather sad it is over.

This experience has truly been life changing for me. The committment and dedication it required was beyond any challenge I have undertaken up to this point. There were times I wanted to quit. There were times I didn't believe in myself. I think pure stubborness and the refusal to admit on Facebook I was quitting was the only thing that carried me through some rought points. But in the end, I really did it. I proved to myself that I could. I proved to myself that I could set a very challenging goal, I could keep up with the day to day that was required, and when the time came, I shined brighter than I ever dreamed possible.

I am now looking forward to a different kind of challenge. The month of May will find me dedicated to yoga, hooping, and living life sugar free. It will be hard and challenging in its own way. My next running goal is another half marathon in October with an aim to come in under a 10 minute mile pace. But whatever the goals I set in my life, I am bursting with confidence I have the ability to see it through. I encourage you to set a goal and find this confidence if you don't already embody it. It is breathtaking.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stage Fright, a Timely Reminder and a Big Change For Our Family

Things are happening, much to do, craziness abounds. The first order of business is my newly aquired massive bout of stage fright. Yep, stage fright it is. Hubs diagnosed me and he is right no the money. I am anxious, frustrated, and a little on the emotionally sensitive side. Seriously, all of these big feelings are bubbling up in me out of nowhere. I am not feeling like the most emotional stable person in the world of late. I could not figure it out and then John did, I have stage fright concerning my half marathon on Sunday. I am scared! What if I fail??? In front of all those people?? What if I choke at the last minute or just let myself give up??? I mean, if I do obviously the entire Go! Marathon (over 18,000k participants and countless spectators) will stop what they are doing to point and laugh, right? No? You think they might just keep running? Hmmm.

That brings me to the second part of this blog, a timely reminder. This came from an amazing friend name Missy. After assuring me that I will do fabulously she brought my attention to all the work I have done up until this point. And trust me, I have done the work. I remembered that all this training was the true win. I won last week when I ran over 13 miles by myself, with no one to encourage me, and no crowd to cheer me on. It was just me and the trail out there and I conquered it. So in the long run I have alreay run and Sunday is just the victory lap. Or how about how far I have come in the past 3 years? Three years ago I started this little adventure with the ubiquitous Couch to 5k program. The first time I ran 2 minutes, that is right 2 minutes!, I was sick in the Y's bathroom. I was in miserable shape. Again I state for the record, I have already won. Truthfully, I am feeling much better and I am sure it has nothing to do with the 2 hours of hooping I did today and the perfect spring weather.

Finally, there is the big change for our family. We have kicked the tv to the curb for the kids. John and I watch very little tv as it is but our kids, goodness. I am ashamed to admit but I started using the tv to babysit the kids when I needed to get something done or wanted to waste,er I mean spend more time on the computer. What finally prompted this was the kids having fights over what was on, Logan physically climbing the tv, and a general feeling of disconnect. I took a deep breath and said no more and we are going cold turkey. We just can't do limit. It doesn't work for us. We will have one movie a week for family movie and pizza night.

The change has been immediate and radical. First, the kids have barely asked for it. We have been reading so much more. They aren't fighting, they are easier to get along with, and we are simply more connected. We are laughing and playing together so much more. It has been amazing. I will keep you posted on if this all melts down in a blaze of withdrawal that I have yet to spot. Oh, and as a result I am spending a considerably less amount of time on the computer. I am pretty sure this will benefit me most of all.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Want to Train for Cirque du Soleil

Okay, I ran into another blog post over at A Whole Lot of Hoop Love (sorry I can't figure out how to embed and I am excited about my subject) about the things she wants to do to be a circus performer. I totally get where she is coming from with this. I really do. You see, I have a whole plan laid out on my journey to train for Cirque du Soleil. Do I think I am going to get there?? Well of course not, I am an almost 40 year old women with two small children. I am neither young/flexible enough nor free from responsibilities enough to run off to join any circus. But the journey, oh my the journey will be AMAZING!! I already hoop and I will take classes for my doubles and minis soon. I want to learn more poi over the summer. I intend to take belly dancing lessons soon. And then the coolest, coolest part, AERIALS! Bumbershoots here in St Louis has classes for both aerial silks and aerial hoop. Hubs says go for it!! (Love, love that man. He truly is coolest hubs evah!!!!) So that is my plan for the next 6 months or so, to explore the creative and physical side of the circus-y type arts. They are so elegant, beautiful, and let's be honest, downright gorgeous. It is just the kind of beauty in my life and my world that makes me happy. I just had a morning with my amazing friend Sarah. Seriously, she is one of the most beautiful and light filled souls I have ever met. My week is better from the visit. I know my life is better because of the friendship. Anyhoo, we were discussing my let's call it gregarious and inhibition free personality. I wasn't always like this. I used to be caught up in the world and the rat race that so aptly describes it. I used to think I will be happy and really start living my life when... oh fill in the blank. It didn't matter what is is but it held me back. One day I thought, I am done. I am living today for today and living a life that I am proud of and makes me happy. And that is what I did. And now what makes me proud and happy is to train to be a circus performer. I love my life. It is so cool to me.