Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Challenge II, D7: {Wrangling August}

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Can you believe that we are all ready at the end of August? I (self-proclaimed "Fall-lover" that I am) am not complaining-- merely shaking my head in wonder that the past four weeks flew by quite as fast as they did-- it's a blur I tell you! ...Such is life, I suppose.

...But a glorious blur it has been ;)

I also cannot believe that I am (as of the moment I press "publish") 1/3 of the way through the 21 day challenge! It's been a delight so far, and I cannot wait to see what words will pour out in the later 2/3 of the journey.

As I am sitting down to write tonight, it occurs to me that this may be the first challenge post that I haven't had completely planned out. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't have any ideas: I've had all sorts of ideas rattling around in my brain all day ;)

And so tonight I'm bringing out an old favorite: a Wednesday Wrangling Post, which I feel lends itself quite nicely to the beautiful chaos that has been my week so far.

Let's dive on in!

(A weekly round up. Each week I am going to “wrangle” my life's happenings into a post filled with pictures, lists & general tidbits about the past 7 days.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Although it's been (surprisingly) busy (read: a project that we thought would take 1 day has now taken 3 ... and counting) week... it's been a really good one! Somehow, after an 18 miler & a "non-over-abundance" (did you get that?) of sleep this past weekend, I hit the ground running on Monday morning ... and I haven't stopped since. I feel like I am giving 110%, and going to bed exhausted, but completely at peace. ... And that's a great feeling.

Still, I am looking forward to the mellow respite that the a long 3-day weekend promises. While I do have some plans (i.e.: 1/2 marathon in Sunday morning, family Labor Day celebration on Sunday night; both of which I am sure you'll hear more about later!) I am actively trying to leave the rest of the weekend open. It's going to be a good one though ... that much I know is true.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Um yeah. So not to toot my own horn (*toot, toot!*) but this peach butter tastes awesome. I cannot recommend Julie's recipe enough.

Try it, you'll love it. (Also, it will make your house smell warm & spicy & fall-y while it is cooking down... Yummmmmm.)

...and if you're like me, you'll be eating it out of the crock pot jar with a spoon....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(photo credit)

The leaves are changing colors ...

Our morning runs are crisp & dark once again ...

Pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks ...

.... I'm in heaven.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last but not least, I was nominated by my sweet friend Hannah (check out her blog, Culture Connoisseur!) for the 'Versatile Blogger Award'.

Thank you so much, Hannah :) I am flattered, and so happy that the blog world introduced me to you! ♥

In order to accept the award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself, and then pass on the award to other deserving bloggers!

7 things about me:

1. I am an engineer. This does not in any way equip me to deal with real life engineering problems like packing the car or loading the dishwasher ;)

2. I hate doing laundry. Loathe it, in fact. I wait until I am down to my last pair of socks before I force myself to tackle the mountain of clothes in my clothes basket.

3. I am a mac.

4. I have been to a metallica concert.

5. ...I actually love the heels of bread. They make the best toast!

6. I sleep best when there's a warm kitty at my feet ♥

7. I think technology is fantastic, but nothing beats a good old fashioned, hand written letter. I keep a box of special letters by my bed, and read them on nights when I need a little lift.

And now, I am honored to pass this award on to some other wonderful bloggers. Like Hannah, I'll pick 5:

Heidi's Big Adventure

Running My Life

Daisy Girl

Amelia Grazia

A Change of Pace

These ladies are absolutely lovely, and they inspire me! To me, each of them is a perfect example of a versatile blogger :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And now if you'll excuse me, I need to go snuggle Gracie, who has been patiently sleeping on my foot waiting with me while I blog. I'll be back tomorrow with a post about inspiration...

Have a fantastic Wednesday night -- Happy 'Last of August'!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Challenge II, D7: 'All American'

I admit that I have never been much of a sports fan.

Don't get me wrong. I rock a good tailgate party with the best of 'em, and I'll happily tag along to any sporting event that you'd like to take me to -- but if left to my own devices, I'll rarely watch a game (I average about 1 game a year - the Superbowl ;).

Honestly, (and please don't think less of me for saying this!) I don't *really* even understand the rules of football, other than, as explained to me during a casual game in college "get the ball & run like hell to the other side of the field-- without getting tagged or tackled."

So I guess what I mean to say is that while I may not be a "pure sports fan" (for the sake of the sport itself) I have always appreciated & loved the social aspect :)

... And baseball games have always held a special place in my heart.

I'm not sure exactly what it is, but baseball games have always had a certain romance to them.

They evoke memories of sweet summer days, and the characteristic scent of peanuts + fried food + cotton candy bring back memories of hot August nights in my childhood.

When I set foot in a ballpark and something in my heart just sighs -- heavy with the sweet nostalgia of homecoming; set aflame to the beat of simpler times and classic Americana.

Last night Jon & I got the chance to go to a Columbus Clippers (Central Ohio's Minor League Baseball team) game with my company. And while we had a great time laughing with my co-workers (& Jon had a good time discussing video games with a pint-sized acquaintance --oh, I SO want boys someday ;) ... more than as a social event -- this was a fantastic date.

Sometimes the best part of being out in a crowd is 'being alone together', if you know what I mean. We munched hot dogs (dime-a-dog night) & sipped some of (I'm sure) the last 'Summer Shandy' of the year; we held hands and whispered & laughed together. We cheered & boo-ed and joked with the people I spend 25% of my week with--but don't often get to kick back with :)

And the weather couldn't have been better for us. When the game ended at 10, it was a crisp, clear night in the mid-60's. Perfection.

"The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again."
- James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams (1989)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Challenge II, D6: "The art of weekending"

I'm not sure if you have noticed or not, but there are two very distinctive weekend personalities. There are the people who watch the minute hand click to closing time on Friday and take off... ready to party the night away and spend every second of the weekend doing -- flitting effortlessly (& with endless energy) from one activity to the next. Then there are those who, at the close of the work week, leisurely head home, change into their comfiest clothes, and settle into the couch to spend the weekend not doing... just because they can ;)

Me? I like to think that I dabble a little bit in both worlds. I enjoy a Sunday afternoon nap just as much as the next person, and love spending a Saturday afternoon reading... but I'm on the go quite a bit, too. What is important to me is to soak up every moment of the weekend, but to be able to sit in bed on Sunday night completely at peace and renewed.

It is an art I am working on perfecting.

But this weekend? It was pretty perfect :)

You all ready know about my yesterday --truly, 18 miles was pretty much all I did... Ah! With the exception of making this for dinner... yummy! Post-run carbo-loading, anyone? (Um, and really, peeling a butternut squash is a workout in it's own right... Hah!)

So now without further ado I'll catch you up on today!

Today I:

* used & washed my frying pan 3 times.

* went to church & participated in heart moving worship

* hugged my sister ♥

* chopped about a million peaches

* swooned at the warm scent of 'fall' emanating through the house as the batch of peach butter cooked.

* roasted my first chicken on a bed of potatoes and carrots
* set the table for a lovely Sunday dinner for two. (When I was growing up, Sunday dinners were always a special meal during the week, enjoyed at the dining room table. I hope to keep that tradition for my own family. ♥)
* snuggled Baron and Gracie often

* enjoyed a glass of white wine with Jon to toast to another good week
* lingered in each moment as long as I could
* snuggled on the couch with Jon & the last of the haagen daas (!) after dinner
* ended the weekend deeply peaceful, and deeply thankful for the opportunity to do it all again starting tomorrow.

Your turn: How was your weekend, friends? Do you have any special "Sunday traditions" to start your week on the right foot?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Challenge II, D5: Run with me!

18 mile club

Hey, hey friends! I hope your Saturday has been a wonderful one for you -- equal parts exciting & relaxing :)

This post is coming at you a little late tonight because I have been having a hard time keeping my eyes open for more than 30 minutes at a time. Seriously. So. Tired.

Tonight's post is going to be picture heavy... but sometimes it's more fun to get the story through the pictures.

Today I woke at 5:15 am.

...And kept company by my favorite little friend, I began what has become my Saturday morning ritual. Dress, Eat, Coffee, Fill water bottles, pack 'snacks' for the trail, pull hair into ponytail & head out the door. It's a beautiful thing, and after 13 weeks of training, it's a routine that is becoming second nature to me.

At 6:30 am I met up with my MiT group, and we headed out to the trail.

Each run has a beauty & a challenge all it's own. This week's run was incredibly hard for me mentally, but it also included moments of breathtaking beauty, like this picture I snapped of the sunshine on the water at Antrim Park.

3+ hours later, we were done; ready to write another successful training run into our archives. Even when it hurts, or when I am frustrated & mentally 'not in the game', or when I feel like I have nothing let to give; it's such a blessing to me. I am humbled and awed at what my body can do, and that I've been given a chance to pursue this dream of mine.

♥ 10.16.2011. ♥

Friday, August 26, 2011

Challenge II, D4: Good Friday Happenings

And Happy Friday to you, friends!

I don't know about you, but for me it feels like this week has just flown by. It's both exhilarating and calming to be on the cusp of another weekend. Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but this is looking like its going to be a really great one.

In the plans:

* Peach butter!! (via Savvy Julie!)
* I have some great dinners to cook up, too -- Yay, meal planning! (Roasting my 1st cornish hen this weekend! Squee!!)
* Sonoma / San Francisco Planning (Our trip is almost upon us, and I am getting more excited by the day!)
* 18 miles tomorrow morning with MiT (which I am disgustingly excited about, hehe...)
*... and on a not-unrelated note, a blog post coming at you tomorrow that I am also crazy excited about :)
* Possible apple picking tomorrow (Gala)
* Church on Sunday morning ♥ I haven't gone to worship in a couple weeks, and returning after any length of absence always feels like coming home...

So, bring on the weekending! But before we get there, it is a good Friday, after all... and you know what that means:

Good List:
1. Jon. I'm excited to get to spend time with my best friend after a busy week!
2. Inspiration...

3. Trader Joe's salsa. Yum, yum, yum.
4. Favorite books that you read over, and over and over again. ... And that you fall a little more in love with each time.

5. My lunchtime treat today was to take myself to my favorite Uptown Westerville Coffee Shop for what is quite possibly the best fall drink out there. ... And I don't say that lightly. Pumpkin Chai ... I think you are a missing piece of my soul.
6. Laurie passed her nursing boards! Wahoo!! Laurie, RN has such a nice ring to it :)
7. "Superwoman days". You know those days when you get everything checked off your to-do list? They are a rare and precious commodity... and so worth the wait.

8. Good hair days (heh... which, for me, are also rare & precious commodities.)
9. Girlfriends
10. "Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Unshakable faith is faith that has been shaken." ~ Unknown

Your turn: Any good weekend plans? Spill 'em... Did the past 7 days fly by for you, too? What was the highlight of your week?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Challenge II, D3: Scenes from the Kitchen

Today has been a really good day :)

And it culminated this evening when I marched home from work, put on my proverbial apron (note to self: buy apron) and got busy in the kitchen :)

About once a week, I like to treat myself and cook a really involved dinner -- the more peeling & chopping the better! This week was all ready destined to be a good week for me because I finally disciplined myself to sit down on Sunday afternoon and sketch out a meal plan for the next 7 days-- and the plan contains not one, but 3(!!) such meals (full disclosure: I am terrible at meal planning. This may be the first time when I have actually been successful with it. It's something I am working on ;)

Tonight's creation was "Mama Pea's Green & Red Lentil Enchiladas" from from her wonderful new cook book!

It's no secret that cooking is one of my love languages. It's a way I can give back to those I love, that, at the same time, brings me incredible peace.

I love the whispery swish of a sharp knife cutting through onion ; the characteristic click of the oven as it heats ; the satisfying sizzle of chopped vegetables hitting melted butter in the skillet. (Don't even get me started on the scent of caramelizing onions in butter. Mercy.) (Also, note to self: add cast iron skillet to Christmas list... along with donut pan and aforementioned apron :)

I love the vibrance of chopped fresh vegetables (I've always thought jalapenos and tomatoes were especially beautiful). And I love the warmth that emanates from the kitchen when dinner is on the way, both literally and figuratively.

I love that when Jon keeps me company in the kitchen when I cook we always circle back around to conversations about family. (It just makes sense.)

I never dreamed I would enjoy this classic aspect of being a "grown up" so much. And I am honored that somehow this has become my sacred initiative: to feed my family, body & soul.

You can have your spa-like bathrooms and romantically lit patios (and the thought of both makes my heart thump!)...

But as for me, my refuge will always be my kitchen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Challenge II, D2: A Change of Plans

The main problem with being a classic "Type A" (which, if you haven't figured out by now, I most definitely AM) is that life rarely follows a formula. And it's even more of a rarity that life will follow your plans 100% of the time. ...And if there's one thing we "Type A's" don't do well, it's budgeting in some breathing room for those inevitable curves in the road.

However, I would contend that some of the best things in my life came about because of a change in plans :) And the "Type A" in me will just have to put that thought on her list; learn it, own it, and love it.

Today has been a perfect example of the universe reminding me that I cannot plan everything out; and of God reminding me He's still in charge, and it's all good.

The day just started out with a delightful change of plans for me. It began at 4:45 am with a spectacular thunderstorm, and, consequently the delay of our group's planned 5 mile run. This meant that I was able to crawl back into bed and snuggle with Jon & the kitties for another 2 hours. Heaven.

And this evening my plans to cook a multi-step vegetarian feast took a detour when my friend Heather invited me to join her to make up for our missed morning miles. 5 hot, sweaty, exhausting miles later, (I promise to never sugar-coat running for you. It is wonderful, but some days are really hard) the last thing I wanted to do was crawl home and spend a couple hours in the kitchen. So, instead, I crawled home & ate a popsicle, took a nice long shower to wash off the 2 tons of sweat that had accumulated on my body (blech), and now I'm munching on a couple pieces of BBQ chicken pizza that Jon saved for me and spending some quality time with my favorite blogging buddy, Gracie. And this is just lovely. I am so proud that Heather and I persevered this evening in less-than-ideal running conditions. And while preparing an elaborate meal lifts my heart and brings me peace, tonight I think my soul was craving some time to just sit and be quiet.

And so I will oblige it.

I think often of the woman I want to be... and if I could sum it up in one word, it would be this: grace. I want to be the woman who exudes calm & comfort. The woman who is capable and un-flappable. A woman you just want to be with. And I know that in order to become this woman I need to let go. I need to dream and plan, but then step back and say, "I've given this my best, what will be will be."... And mean it. I need to step out from the shadow of my own expectations, so that I can rejoice in the beauty of reality.

I need to let go. Unclench my iron grip on lists and plans, and hold open my hands for the blessings to come.

I've always loved this quote, and it seems only appropriate that I share it with you tonight:

"Every­thing hap­pens for a rea­son, peo­ple change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you can appre­ci­ate them when they’re right, and some­times good things fall apart so bet­ter things can come together."
- Mar­i­lyn Monroe

Your Turn: What is something in your life that hasn't turned out exactly how you might have expected it... but in it's own right, much better than you could have dreamed?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Challenge II, D1: Comfort

(Pardon the dusty keyboard. Yikes.)

Happy Tuesday, friends! Welcome to day 1 of my new challenge series! In lots of ways, this has been a good day: great run with my girls this morning, time for devotions (it's been hard to sit down to devotions in the morning with the early runs. When it comes down to shower vs. devotions, my spirit would prefer the latter, but my colleagues, the former. You're welcome, Mr.boss-man.) and a good breakfast (oatmeal... loving this cooler weather!) But as the day progressed other "not so good" things started piling up, one on top of the other, and by the end of the day I was just tired...

(I must say that I am feeling very blessed to not have been more affected by this crazy earthquake that the east coast dealt with today.... I felt it, but that was the extent. My heart is with all those dealing with the outcome of that event tonight...)

And so I did what any girl one would do: I came home & called a girlfriend, poured myself a big glass of milk, and busted out the jojos. ;)

And now here I am cookies in hand, wrapped in a blanket, kitties close by, playing some of my favorite relaxing music and writing. And I feel worlds better. I think I'm beginning to master this art of 'comfort'.... ♥

As I've gotten older, one of the concepts I have been most thrilled & fascinated to learn is that of 'comfort'. I love the fact that comfort is such a personal phenomena, and I love even more that it's a fluid concept that shifts and changes form for each person as time goes on.

For most of us, out first definition of comfort was probably falling asleep in our mothers' arms. As we grew up and our knowledge of the universe expanded, our definition grew to include things like "worn-in jeans, downy blankets, and hot cocoa" (among other things).

And while I hold all these things to be truth, as far as what comfort is-- I have come to know something else, as well: that above and beyond any tangible thing, comfort is what make a house a home.

I love that my life is a healthy mix of social nights out & quiet nights in. I love to go out and be loud with my girlfriends, on the nights when the stories and the wine and giggles flow freely. And that's one kind of comfort, for sure: a comfort found in being absolutely free to be yourself. But I also (equally fiercely!) love the quiet nights in , filled with bottomless cups of hot tea, plates of homemade cookies, sleepy kitties & snuggling on the couch with my man.

It is here, at home, that I am most at peace; it is here where I can finally allow the weight of the world and the stress of the work day roll off my shoulders.

During the second half of my "college life", I was moving every 3 months as a co-op student. Moving was a great experience for me not only because it took me to new places, but because it forced me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. And while some people might argue that moving every 3 months is detrimental to ones sense of comfort & self because 'you never have enough time to put down any roots' ... I would argue that moving every 3 months allowed me to branch out, and, perhaps more importantly, that my roots were firmly planted to begin with. Also, undeniably, moving every 3 months gave me a better sense of what "home" really was for me.

Since Jon & I moved into this house at the end of last March, this is the house that I've lived in the longest (outside of my parents home, where I spent 18+ years!) Our house is not the biggest on the street, and our flower beds are far from perfect, but it is cozy and perfect & ours. I remember lying awake on our air mattress the first night we had the house, listening to the cats explore their vast new domain & and Jon's soft, regular breathing. I didn't sleep well that night -- I couldn't. My brain was positively racing with the promise & possibilities of this new house. This is the house we will learn how to be married in. This is the house we will bring our babies home from the hospital to. This is the house we will live in as we chase our dreams, each day getting closer and closer to making them a reality. This is our home.

It is my personal promise that I will strive to bring this feeling of welcome & comfort to anyone who steps through our door.

I am a homebody, and I am not ashamed of it.

Rather, I am proud.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good List Monday & Challenges

Hey hey, friends! Happy Monday to you!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. As always, mine was way too short, but very nice. Jon's best-friend-since-forever friend Ben was in town, and on top of visiting with him we spend a good chunk of time with family. ...Oh yeah, and I ran 16 miles somewhere in there, too ;)

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to put up my Friday Good List at the end of last week, so I thought it would be a nice way to start the week off (it's looking like this week is going to be chock full of good stuff, so I'm not at all worried about having enough to pull together another list this Friday.) Sometimes life is too good to be confined to one list, you know?

So, tonight I am going to give you a good list to sum up my last week+ weekend+ today (whew), but before I do that, I want to tell you about a new challenge I am giving myself.

I'm bringing back the 21 day challenge.

Last year I challenged myself to take one picture a day and blog about it, and I thought it was a lot of fun. So this summer I am bringing it back, with a little twist: this year it's going to be more of a 21 day writing challenge! I want to work on developing my blogging skills to write short sweet anecdotal posts that I can take from brain --> publish in about an hour. If you haven't noticed, I tend to be a bit... uhm, verbose... and I think it will be freeing to challenge myself to get a little something out there every day. If at any time I feel like I might be starting to sacrifice quality for quantity, I'm going to stop... or maybe just take a day or so off to freshen up ;) So, in a nutshell: I'm going to blog every day for the next 21 days, in the process taking more pictures and (I hope) maybe finally resurrecting some of my writing from the "post graveyard."

I'm really looking forward to this, and I hope you'll come join me!
... Tune in tomorrow :)

And for tonight,

Good List:
1. Jon. We had some amazing heart-to-hearts this weekend. I swear, I cannot talk to anyone quite the same way I talk to my husband. He speaks right to my heart.
2. LAURIE PASSED THE NCLEX! Baby sister is a bona-fide RN :) I am absolutely glowing with happiness for her ♥

3. My 16 mile run on Saturday went wonderfully. And now there is absolutely no doubt that "Oh my gosh, I am actually going to do this thing." I am going to run a marathon, Woohoo!
4. Today's weather was absolutely gorgeous. Sunny and in the mid-70's. Perfection. Thank you, God!
5. Lunchtime walks (the picture at the very beginning of this post was taken during my 20 minute stroll at noon today!)

6. Retail therapy with Laurie. On Saturday, while Laurie was in town to take her exam, she and I met up to go shopping. I bought a book (The Help!) for my upcoming vacation, and amiably tagged along to clothing stores while Laurie searched for a new dress. At H&M I had to try on this little number-- it was just calling me from the hanger. And it fit like a glove! ...A very tight glove. I put the dress back without any regrets, but not before I happily snapped a picture to memorialize the moment.

7. I think that perhaps one of my greatest lessons in life is that almost anyting can be enjoyable if you allow yourself plenty of time to go slowly and enjoy it stress-free. Case in point: grocery shopping. Tonight Jon had the boys over for games, and so I took myself on a date to Trader Joe's. I spent a good hour and a half wandering the aisles and swooning over colorful produce & exotic sounding cheeses (Honey goat gouda?! Yes, please!) I emerged with 4 full bags, and one very full & happy heart :)
8. "Old favorites". Books, jeans, movies & childhood comfort foods-- they're all good.

9. I hate to get all "fallfallfallfall" on you, but the cool bite in the air and the lingering scents of wood fires in our neighborhood, coupled with the early sunsets and changing leaves has me pining for my favorite season. I. Can't. Wait. The newest potterybarn catalog has a multiple page spread devoted to all things fall, and you can bet it sets this heart a-flutter :)
"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Great words spoken by a great man :)

Your Turn: What tops your Good List for last week/this past weekend? Are you an 'Autumn Addict" like me? What's your favorite season & why?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Miles to Me

"The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."
-Charles Dubois

Happy Monday night, friends :) I hope that your week has been wonderful to you so far; and that Monday has treated you kindly. I hope your ‘last week’ was a good one, too! Filled with sunshine, new vices (uhm, I totally just discovered the show "Damages" ... and I'm HOOKED) & farmer's market goodies (you can absolutely taste the difference in "fresh from the garden produce") and punctuated by quiet, peaceful, lunch-break picnics... my past week has been a good one for sure.

...With, perhaps, the exception of this pesky post that has been hanging over my head for the past couple weeks.

I'd just like to take a minute to say (and I know I'm preaching to the choir here): sometimes being a blogger is hard. Like, really hard. A blog is a journal of sorts, meaning that first and foremost you are writing for yourself -- but it's also an online journal that is meant to be shared --read by others. And sometimes, that means applying a filter. A filter to preserve the sanctity of a relationship: whether it be a marriage, a friendship, or an unspoken treatise with your own spirit. I've been struggling for the past couple weeks especially over the phrase "year of honesty"... which I loftily promised to all of you way back in January.

Perhaps I should have begun by apologizing... because there's been a huge heartache that I've been battling for months now... and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how and when … and if... to share. (To quash any rumors: my family is fine. I am healthy. My marriage is a blessing that I give thanks for every day, and God is so good... even in the midst of my struggles.)

Writing has always provided catharsis for me, and so it seemed natural to me that I would write about it. It was perfect in theory: I would write about it and put it behind me... shed a few tears perhaps, but pick myself up and move forward with purpose. And so I wrote.... (pages and pages which will never even make it to the "post graveyard") and I prayed. ...And I waited.

And for an awfully long time, I waited in silence. I don't know if I was asking the wrong questions, asking from the wrong place, or if perhaps, the silence itself was the answer. Maybe it was.

At any rate, I'm sure it probably seems like I'm rambling now... but all this to say, writing this post brought all this back to the forefront. And it's back in the forefront because my marathon journey has provided a startling resolution-- and I'm trying to discern how best to give my story justice. Do I need to spill forth everything in order to make the conclusion more satisfying? ... Especially if, despite my best efforts, in the unpolished telling of the story I say something that could hurt someone I care about? Will this really be something I am proud of? Something I can honestly say I put out into the world to make it a better place? (Which may sound trite... but really? Why do any of us blog? It is to fulfill a longing of our heart to create... and an equal longing on our heart to reach out and connect with others.)

My answer? ... No. (Thus the posting delay and multiple drafts sitting on my desktop...)

Romantic as it may be -- ultimately, my redemption will never come from 'spilling my guts' in a blog post. Actually, I tried that in January. ... and while my final effort is one that I am quite proud of, the post I published was a censored & watered down version of reality ... penciling in the happy ending I longed for when, in fact, my heart was not ready to let go and make it a reality.

No, my redemption came, ultimately, when I recognized it was okay to love myself, even in my imperfections. Peace came when I allowed myself to recognize the truth of the situation... grieve , and say, "It's okay, Amy. You're okay. I forgive you."

But, let's start at the beginning:

At the end of last year I was pretty depressed. I believe perhaps it was the culmination of a lot of little things at once -- but in the end, I don't think it matters why. The truth of the matter is that suddenly I was brought to my knees my an aching desire that nothing could fill. And, coming swiftly on the heels of that desire, a deep, searing guilt. I felt incredibly selfish, and dared not speak of my longings to others, for fear that they would judge me. ... or quite frankly (& ironically), tell me to grow up.

And so it was that I plodded along, with a heavy heart, through some of the darkest months in my recent history (as I recall, middle school was no picnic, but I survived that and have been working diligently to forget it ever since :) I didn't see it then, but I recognize now that dealing with this gave a tremendous beating to my self esteem. Eventually, you heart starts believing what your brain is telling it... and mine was telling me that I was selfish, immature, and worthless; that I never finished what I started, and worse: perhaps I never would.

Sometimes it takes something radical to pull us out of the pit-- a radical change, a radical love, a radical promise. And that's what running this marathon became for me: a radical change, a radical love, a radical promise.

Not that I realized it at first, of course. Quite frankly, the only thing on my mind the day I signed up was, "I really need something to do to take my mind off this other stuff..." I knew it was going to be the most challenging endeavor I'd ever taken on. And-- truly? I kind of wanted it to hurt. While I wanted so badly to believe that I could do it, there was a part of me that counted this as my penance. At the time I felt overwhelmed by my failures & shortcomings... and I desperately needed this to be my discipline. I knew it was going to be good for me... but I KNEW I wasn't particularly going to enjoy it.

...And then?...


It started when I fell head over heels in love with my running group. The way these people care for each other is absolutely breathtaking. Whether it's in homemade pb&j's served with a smile after long runs, kind words of encouragement throughout the week, or running a couple miles on your day off so that your friend doesn't have to run alone-- this is Community. I was able to join a weekday morning running group, and the ladies I run with have been a special blessing to me.

So, I was loving the group... loving the running (which was a feeling I was scared I would never get back...) And slowly but surely, I gained the courage to fall in love with me again, too.

I am my own worst critic-- and that's something I've always known. But it occurs to me that in recent years, I've been critiquing more than I've been crediting. Running a marathon allows you ample opportunities to critique -- that's part of the beauty of running, an intensely personal sport-- but it also allows ample opportunities for awe. My body can do SO much more than I had ever dreamed. And, perhaps even more importantly for me: my mind can do more than I ever dreamed. I am capable of rising above negative self talk that says, "You're too slow. You're carrying a few extra pounds and you're out of shape. There's no way you can run these miles." I am capable of sheltering & kindling the fire in my heart that burns with the truth,"Oh, yes I can."

I always used to think that I was in the best shape of my life when I was running with the high school cross country team (ulp. 11 years ago...)-- but now I know better: with MiT not only am I running farther than I have ever run before in my life... my approach toward body image and exercise are better than they've ever been.

I knew running a marathon was going to change my life, but I had no idea how much. I had no idea of the changes would rock my world in the months preceding my 26.2 mile trek to the finish line. Today, I am proud to say that I have logged over 200 training miles in my quest toward self discovery. ...And by the time I cross the finish line on October 16, I will have logged many more. And with each step I run, I know I am moving closer & closer to becoming the person I was created to be. I know with absolute certainty that this is what I am supposed to be doing now. It sure isn't easy (I tell you with conviction that running 14 miles was the hardest thing I have ever done. EVER.), but, you know? The most satisfying rewards are those you work the hardest for.

And so, what started as a punishment has become a blessing. And, keeping promises to myself, I keep running; faithfully logging those miles.

Miles to me.

"The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect."

George Sheehan

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Sunday in Photos

I always suspected that my soul would feel right at home at an outdoor farmer's market.

Today, my suspicions were validated.

Not only did my soul feel right at home, my soul sang with joy.

Nowhere does my heart find more peace than in the country sunshine; reveling in the simple, unadulterated, breathtaking beauty of nature.

Happy Sunday, friends.

PS: I am about 3/4 of the way through my running post. It has actually evolved into something that I hadn't expected, and while I am very proud of it, and I think it will probably be one of my favorite pieces to date ... well, I probably don't have to tell you, the "real-est" pieces are the most exhausting (if rewarding) to write. It's coming soon, I promise ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good List Fridays: volume iii

New MiT shirt. I'm bad at taking self portraits, but the part you can't see reads:" Change your life, one mile at a time." Love this concept... and it's certainly proved true for me ♥

Happy Friday, friends!

And happy August?! How did that happen? I had just lulled myself into complacency thinking that although the tv & radio are innundated with back to school commercials, the retail seasons are always at least a month in advance. ... and in fact, it's just that time is sneaking past me :)

I hope you all had a wonderful week. I am (as usual) singing Friday praises and looking forward to the weekend. Let's do a little Good List-y recap of the week, shall we?

Good List
1. Jon. Who is, and will always be, one of the coolest people I know. I'm excited to have him back next week (i.e.: Jon has a break from being on call for a couple weeks :)

2. Last night while Jon was playing volleyball with some friends from work, I spent the evening doing completely "Amy-like" things: I cooked dinner and cranked up some jazz music, poured myself a glass of wine, and just sat and let my mind be at peace. How my how my soul needed this night!

3. Happy text messages. Little sister is doing just fine in the big world :)
4. Striving to do one thing a day that scares me. I don't do this often enough. It makes me feel invincible.

5. New sneakers.
6. Soft, damp nights punctuated by the song of cicadas. This is quintessential August.

7. These. Sweet heavens. 'How Sweet Jessica' sure knows what she's doing ....
8. Dreaming of peaches ... and peach butter.
9. Fabulous 14. {The running post is coming your way tomorrow!}
"Living a great love story is like prepping for a marathon. Most people show up out of shape and expect it to work. It won't." - Donald Miller

(I love everything about this quote. ...and it inspires me to reread one of my favorite books, Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.")

Your Turn: What tops your 'Good List" this week? How would you describe a "perfectly YOU-like" evening? ♥