Corny Things

With the playgrounds closed, the only thing there is to do lately is to go on walks, hikes, or bike rides. (Or bake). I love to cook and bake as much as the next person, but I can only eat so much sourdough bread. I started painting rocks. I thought it might bring a smile or giggle to kiddos out and about. Multiplied by no parks, stay at home orders, etc., it seemed like a fun way to help get out the stir crazies. Beginning in March, it was a way to fill some time, be creative and get outside a bit.

I remember seeing cute little lady bug rocks out at my favorite trail – they’ve been there for years. The minions and I gathered up some good rocks at the beach and we started painting. One kid painted one, the other kid painting a few but lost interest. I however fell in love with it and have continued on painting little random images onto rocks and hiding them around our neighborhood. Many were inspired by the internet.

Some are better than others. A few are left in our own flower beds. Most I paint and then hide in random trees or by community mailboxes.

I love a good pun, much to my kids’ disgust. I love showing them my latest and them groaning and rolling their eyes at how corny their mother is. “Oh mom!” I don’t even care. It’s funny punny.

Our community has a Facebook group page and people started posting the found rocks with their kids’ smiling faces. My daughter was irritated that I didn’t speak up and post that it was our rocks that were found. “That’s part of the fun – not knowing who is doing it!” I explained. She disagreed. Oh well.

While out walking the dogs the latest artistic creation in one particular tree in front of a house that I know has a couple of littles. I quickly made my deposit last week and I hear the door swing open and I walked quickly away. A window slid open and the mom I regularly wave to as we drive by called out to me.

“He saw you! I couldn’t stop him!” I laughed and agreed that I was in fact busted. “Are you the one that has been painting these rocks?” She asked me. I smiled and said yes, it was me, but that I’d found some in my walks that were not ours – that others had started painting and hiding, too! She said she loved them and it gave them something to look forward to on their walks.

Today as I was finishing up painting a fresh batch, the hubby walked in holding a gift bag. Curious I asked him what it was.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “It was on the porch.” I opened it up and found a card and some acrylic paint pens!

I got teary as I read the card. I remember how hard deployment was with littles under normal circumstances, but with COVID19 on top of it, playgrounds unavailable, stay at home orders – Groundhog Day is likely an understatement. Painting these tiny canvases has been a fun escape but has reminded me of the importance of community. While we may be socially distancing, we still need each other. People need people.

And maybe just a little splash of art.

Cancelled

Spring

Rebirth

Renewal

Humanity

Faith

Community

Family

Joy

Love

Spring

Hope

~ none of these are cancelled.

The frivolous extra is.

Formal clothing, a building, hats, matching shoes, baskets, colored eggs, the have to’s, the should’s, the busy and unnecessary are all stripped away.

Essentials only.

Spring is not cancelled

The Church is not a building.

Easter is not cancelled.

The Tomb is empty.

 

Shut Her Up

I set out to run a total of 500 miles in 2014. Late this fall, inspired by my niece, I decided to kick it into high gear and complete a 100 day streak – which would force me to complete my mileage goal. There were days when I really really did not want to get out there and run. Days when I just had to force myself out the door after wearing my running clothes around the house for 3 hours battling that little quitter voice in my head. You know the one. Most of the time that voice tells nothing but lies. Every time I ignore that voice and do what I know will make me feel better (in this case running or working out) the next time that voice gets quieter and easier to shut down. As of today, I have shut her up 100 days in a row.

I shut her up when she told me that a goal of 500 miles was too aggressive.

I shut her up when she said that it doesn’t really matter what I’ll do – I’ll never get “there”. Wherever “there” might be.

I shut her down when she focused on how tired or sick I was*.

She stopped talking when I did my runs on vacation, while moving across the country, and while staying in the Navy Lodge.

I shut her up when she tried to make me feel like a bad wife, or a bad mom because my fitness was taking time away from my family. (As if self care doesn’t benefit them by my not being a raging lunatic!)

She didn’t have much to say when I challenged myself to virtual races, 5K Resolution runs, half marathons and even the Tough Mudder.

And she will shut up again tomorrow when I run 4 more miles to round out the year with 500 miles total.

Fitness doesn’t come naturally to me. That voice and I battle all the time. The more I ignore that voice, the stronger mentally I become. These 100 days have shown me how to deal with the procrastination, the natural laziness, and am so much better for it. I also set myself up for success. If I set a goal, I announce it. That holds me accountable. There is no way I could say “I’m running a streak,” and then not do it. Not a chance. By using Facebook and even this blog – I hold myself accountable.

I just love our running and fitness community.

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How cool is it that people who don’t know each other randomly grin and high five – simply because we are both out there doing our thing? I think it’s AWESOME. 10 days ago I calculated that I would need to run 5 miles everyday to the end to get these miles done. You know what happened? People volunteered to virtually run or walk them with me! Who volunteers to help out? Fellow runners, that’s who!!! Knowing my niece was up in the middle of a Minnesota winter running these miles with me, or that my pregnant friend was walking her miles with me, and my other niece who runs half marathons while dealing with Crohn’s  – that and more has kept me motivated more than you know. It gave me the push to the finish and I am so humbled and proud to say I am a part of your ranks. Runners: You ROCK!

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the one person who helps me shut up the voice on a daily basis; my husband. While not a runner himself (even though he can, has long legs and runs like a gazelle – grrrr….so jealous!) he knows how important is to me, and to my sanity. He always asks how my run was, if I got it in and rearranges his schedule to accommodate runs. I could not ask for better support!

Here’s to a fantastic 2015, a new year, new goals and continuing to shut up that voice that says you can’t!

Because you totally can. 

*A note on working out while sick: my rule of thumb is that if it is neck and up, go for it! If the sickness is in your chest, aka, neck and below – take a day off. All my sicknesses where colds/germs brought home from the minions and the germ havens (aka preschool and kindergarten) they attend. 

Big Time Small Town

As a mother of military kiddos, I often marvel at the idea of living in a small town, putting down roots, and having them grow up from kindergarten through 12th grade in the same school district. Does anyone do that anymore? It seems like it would be idyllic in some ways, a nice idea, but hardly a possibility given our active duty status.

I always thought I’d grown up in a small town. That was until I met my husband and he showed me where he grew up! No locking doors, everyone know everyone else. Friendly midwestern peeps who are genuinely interested in the answer when they ask, “How are you?” These travels have been repeated encounters of small town life.

While in some random bathroom in Wyoming, I sneezed and heard a random “bless you” from out of no where! (It actually quite startled me as I thought I was the only one in there!) Usually not a chatty kathy in the stall, I had to laugh to myself and offer my thanks in return.

While visiting my husband’s family in Minnesota, I jumped at the chance to run a 5k with my niece! (You can read her awesome blog here!)

Me and Missy after our race! (Photo credit goes to her! I liked her selfie better than the one I took!)

Me and Missy after our race! (Photo credit goes to her! I liked her selfie better than the one I took!)

When we headed out for the run, I asked her, “I don’t need to lock my car, do I?” She shook her head no, it wasn’t a big deal. I tossed the keys in and off we went to the starting line. The race was fun, humid and she ran a PR! (I on the other hand ran with my hands clutching my chest due to starting out way too fast (as usual) and couldn’t breathe in the humidity! I felt like a beginner all over again!) After the race and pancake feed at the local fire department, we returned to discover my keys are in fact locked inside. It’s an auto-pilot habit. Crap! What do we do? I can’t call the hubby because the phone is locked ever so securely in the car.

“Let’s go find Ralph!” she suggests.

Huh?! Who’s Ralph?

Of course. Ralph is the chief of police. Apparently unlocking car doors is something they do for free! Who knew?! Where I grew up, I locked my keys in the car on a fairly regular basis, but the cops didn’t come to help you but would instead would refer you to a locksmith. (My particular locksmith and I were on a first name basis. Yes, it happened that often.) After Ralph finished his pancakes at the firehouse, he popped by to help me out of my predicament! While regaling us with stories from the job, his cell phone rang. It was the theme from the show COPS. Seriously. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

In addition to my niece being on a first name basis with the chief of police, we discovered that she is also neighbors (literally) with the in-laws of a milspouse friend of mine from Washington! Talk about a small world!

While I was doing all of this, the hubby (who was one of those kids that went to the same school from K-12th grade) took the minions fishing where he went as a kid. We attempted to fish during the salmon run in Washington, but we didn’t catch anything. Luckily the fish were biting in Minnesota! They caught 17 sunfish – and they were delicious!

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I often think a small(er) town life would be great. Then, I think about how much I would miss Target. And Starbucks. And museums with the kids. And giant grocery stores, And, and, and…

I suppose there are pros and cons to both like anything. I often vacillate between being a hermit in a tiny town, living off the grid, shutting out all social media, being completely isolated, and living a more anonymous urban life in some bustling city. I’m not sure one is better than the other, but as a hermit with social butterfly tendencies, I need regular down time like I need oxygen.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of this military life – for a while anyway, we get to experience all different parts of the world, in 2-3 year doses. As hard as it is in some ways, it’s also pretty dang cool, and we get to meet all sorts of people and expose our minions to opportunities that they otherwise would not experience.

What about you? Small town or bustling city? Knowing everyone or complete anonymity? Friendly chat in the bathroom with strangers?

I think I may always be a private pee-er. The sneeze blessing was nice, but it’s just weird chatting about randomness while taking care of business. But, that’s just me.

“Real” Friends

Not only was the subject of friendship a WordPress Daily Prompt today, but it’s something that I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks. Last weekend I had the pleasure of running a 5-miler with a dear friend who I haven’t seen outside of cyberspace in 6 months – entirely too long! Catching up with her was such a gift and 5 miles never flew by so fast! We chatted about all things parenting and motherhood; how the house is never as clean as we’d like, the differences between racing pre-kids and post-kids, lack of time, how it takes longer than one might expect to find your ‘new normal’ as a mother, breastfeeding woes, and how everyone else seems to be doing it better. I mentioned that if someone cares more about how your place looks when they come to visit, perhaps they should be shown the door.  She looked at me as we were running and said, “Thank you for being a REAL friend. I don’t have to pretend with you.”

That sentiment was probably one of the most touching compliments I have ever received in my life.

Honestly, I just don’t have time to be anything but real. What you see is what you get. Most days, I don’t wear make up. I love yoga pants and workout clothes. I love to laugh, really laugh – guffaw and bend over and let ‘er rip!  When I cry – it’s usually of the full-on ugly, soul cleansing variety. My hair is in a pony/bun conglomeration more often than not. I love all things touchy-feely, emotional, self-improvement, empowering and fist-pumping. The real stuff of life.

I have been blessed by wonderful friendships, mostly due to our military life. The friends you make while moving every few years aren’t like any other friendships. No one in your life, try as they might, can truly understand it’s like, what is required, and what kind of support is needed, than a fellow milspouse.

It’s hard, to be sure. If you’re leaving in two to three years, why be real? Why let your guard down? Why get invested when you know it’s only temporary? We hate the inevitable “fair winds, following seas/goodbyes/see you laters”. We all hope to stay connected, but in the back of our mind we understand that some relationships are for a specific time, even if that’s not by choice or how we’d like it to go down, sometimes it just does. It’s hard to maintain true intimacy over the miles. The web makes it easier – but we kid ourselves to believe it’s the same. We miss the day-to-day details of life. Instead we have to be content with the highlight reels until we meet again.  If making friends as an adult is like dating, saying goodbye is the worst kind of breakup.

Why risk being real?

Because it’s worth it. Even though your heart breaks, it’s always worth it. To the degree that saying goodbye sucks, it is to the same degree that being authentic and truly yourself is a breathtakingly beautiful experience.  I would not be the person I am today were it not for the real and honest friendships made along the way.

Reach out. Take the risk. Show up. Be kind. Be real.

It’s always worth it.

Two Notes

It’s been a week.

T-ball fun (and tears), getting difficult news, and capping off the week was a dental appointment that didn’t go well at all. Fillings were to be put in, but after 2 hours of trying to get Jake to drink the sedation medicine, the dentist no longer had time to do them. Jake was a mess of terror, tears, and tantrums, meanwhile Daddy was beyond exhausted. The phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” applies here.

The same day we received the news that Jake is likely on the autism spectrum, I attended my first adult confirmation class. There was great discussion, I am learning a lot, and some tough topics were discussed. Heavy religious themes combined with this particular week we were in the middle of – to say I was a tad emotional would be an understatement.

Randomly, on Friday I received an email from the the pastor’s assistant at our old church checking in with us, asking us how we were doing and wondering if we’d left the area or if she had just missed us. (We haven’t attended services there in over a year.) It was a kind gesture, and nice knowing that we were still thought of, regardless of how long we’d been gone. That very same day we also received a hand written note of encouragement from our current pastor.

I won’t say that one church is better than another, for they are both houses of God and I’ve learned much from both. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, as all communities do. I will say that from our experience, it is very easy to “get lost” in a large church. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It was comforting to go and be anonymous at times. Attending a smaller church, we’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s much easier to be in community with people. It’s comforting during difficult times to really be seen and felt cared for.

Ultimately, the timing of our two notes was a God thing. After a rough week, it felt like a big ol’ much-needed hug.

Bring it on, Monday!

The Pharmacy

As I sat in the uncomfortable waiting area chair, I situated my purse, grabbed my phone and prepared to pass the time with some mind numbing Facebook, spider solitaire, or whatever I might find on Pinterest. I had also brought my latest edition of Runners World to peruse if Facebook wasn’t “interesting enough”.

Then I started to notice the people around me, just outside of my periphery. A lady corralling a toddler on one side, a man standing; eyeing me and all the other smartphone holders with contempt, someone behind me sneezed. All while a computerized voice over the loud speaker droned on and on, announcing the next customer in line.

As I looked around more closely, nearly everyone had a phone or tablet in their hands. One lady I happened to see was playing a slot machine game until her number was called, another was furiously tapping out a text or an email.

I immediately felt sort of melancholy. If our faces weren’t perpetually fixed on a screen, there might have been pleasant small talk. People would have engaged each other.

I slipped my phone back into my purse as I gazed at the sunlight streaming through the blinds. I wonder if our kids will be able to just sit and be, or are we teaching them to constantly “have something to do” and be unceasingly entertained?

I smiled as a nurse walked by. She smiled back. The toddler a few seats down met my eyes and escaped his mother’s grasp to wander down and get a closer look me. His mother and I laughed at what a playful boy he was. The lady behind me told me how smart her grandkids were when it came to computers and “new-fangled gadgets”.

For a moment, It felt like it used to just a few short years ago, before a phone became the extension of most of our fingertips. Now I’m not saying that phones are evil or bad, or that the technology is the devil, but sometimes I wonder just how “connected” it really makes us. Do we really need to see a picture of someone’s awesome lunch, or might we be better served by playing with the toddler in the next seat over, having a pleasant conversation with a grandma that is missing her family, or just being in a rare quiet moment to do nothing but breathe?

It makes me wonder if it’s worth it. Is the price of technology and never ending connection to media worth the sacrifice of real-life interaction?

Good Fences?

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Yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup

We’ve been blessed by having really great neighbors most of my life. Growing up we lived next door to childhood friends. We had campouts in the backyard and our families regularly had dinner together.

After getting married, we’ve been fortunate to live next to some really awesome people, many of which have become long term friends. Part of it has to do with our experiences living in military towns, but even outside of that, we’ve definitely had some good ones which made this daily post challenge a no brainer! The daily challenge was to discuss neighbors, and the people who live next door.

Randomly when we decided to move to base housing last year, we were put in a house right next door to a co-worker of mine from a previous job! And as luck would have it, she started running about the same time I did, and we shared successes through the wonder of Facebook. And now we are neighbors.

Another neighbor saw us working out, later divulging that she would take her daughter for a stroll hoping for an invite to our sweat sessions. I had no idea. (Had I known this, the invitation would have been extended FAR sooner than when she finally got up the nerve to ask about our workouts!) Over the course of the following months, we’ve all gotten to know each other, sharing recipes, child woes, as well as fitness fun – all through the common experience of military life, parenting, and deployments.

Since Christmas, 1 of the 4 of us in our family has been sick. I’m currently typing this with tissue up my nose (gross, I know) and mouth breathing. I have no taste, and for a foodie – that stinks! What I love about my neighbors is their thoughtfulness. I’ve been sick not once, but now round 2 has reared its ugly head. We have been grateful for well wishes and soup. Neighbors have brought me soup, on more than one occasion! Of course my hubs has taken good care of us, but it’s comforting to know that people care, and take the time to show it.

Until we can shake this nasty bug, it’s nice to know we’ve got friends who’ve got our back, ladle in hand, and ready to share!

What If

What if…

What if we stopped? Stopped all the busy. What if we put down the 7 things we’re trying to do simultaneously? What if we focused on just one thing?

Could we do it? We record television shows, while we are watching other shows, flipping channels because we get bored during commercials. We have the remote in one hand and a phone in the other. Too bad we don’t have another hand for the tablet.

“What’s for dinner? Hmmm, I dunno. Ooh! I know! I’ll check out Pinterest for some meal ideas! Yeah. *ping* Omigosh. I have to show you this video on Facebook! It’s hilarious! What? No, honey, not now – we are getting ready to eat. *ping*. Just a minute, baby. Mommy will be right there! I just have to send a quick text. The toilet’s overflowing again?! Ugh! Oh, that reminds me – we need more toilet paper. I’ll add that to the list. *dingdong* Can someone grab the door!? What was I doing again?”

Is it just me?

What if we put away our need to always be doing?

What if we put away our yardsticks of comparison? What if doing just one thing didn’t make us feel unproductive? What if we didn’t look over our fences and feel like failures because we aren’t going, doing, and being all the things we perceive them to be doing and being?

What if the person in front of us, the task in front of us, was the only thing that had our attention?

What if?

What if we looked at people when we spoke with them? What if we felt heard, validated, and not like we were competing for a moment of someone’s time? What if we could stop having a conversation with the top of their head, their eyes glued to a screen?

What if we heard, really heard, those around us? What if we validated them? What if we sincerely inquired about someone else instead of being lost and consumed in our own little mind chatter?

Could we be better spouses? Better parents? Better friends?

Could we finally realize that multitasking is really doing multiple things badly?

What if we suspended our “been there, done that” condescension, and were actually amazed by something? What if we were less guarded? More open to express joy, exhilaration, and excitement?

What if we practiced gratitude all year instead of just a few weeks in November?

What if?

Trepidation and Encouragement

On Tough Mudder eve, I’m feeling nervous. Like every new race, I’m always nervous. Anxiously reviewing the list of preparations, questioning whether there was enough training, enough sleep, enough nutrition….the list goes on and on.

I have never regretted trying new things. Ever. I may have been in pain, achey for days, occasionally disappointed, and sore in places I didn’t know existed – but never regret. This race, perhaps even more than the marathon, makes me VERY nervous.

On this race eve, as I pack and prepare and we head south, my husband comes in the with the mail and hands me an envelope. I open it, noting the return address from a fellow DumBell Fitness recruit. They left Hawaii before we did. She was always very motivating standing next to me during those grueling workouts.

I open it up and find this:

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On a day I can really use a boost, I get one. Big time. The fellow recruit that sent this to me had saved this sticker for me from the time we had had a conversation in the parking lot over 2 years ago. 

Ultimately, the only thing we take with us or leave behind is how we impact other people. I am so touched that she remembered, followed my races, and reached out to encourage me (and I’m sure many others along the way.)

That I may have impacted anyone else the way that she, and so many others have influenced and encouraged me, I will call myself very lucky indeed.

Thank you so much, Melissa. You have no idea how much I needed this today.

“Everyday try something that scares you. Push yourself beyond the limits you thought were impossible. Do not stay in your comfort zone, but learn to see what lies outside.”