Being Open

Three years living in Hawaii encompassed a large amount of sun, beaches, getting fit, and personal growth more than anything. Lessons that I think I have mastered, and then something will come up from behind and smack me upside the head.

Recently I was asked to “friend” someone on social media that I’d met a few weeks ago. She seemed nice and was very enthusiastic. But I didn’t know her that well. What was my hesitation? Why be cynical? Why be so guarded? This person thought enough of me that she wanted us to get to know each other better.  It didn’t matter that I will be moving in a few months. Or that I will likely never see her again after.

I have the same issues with investing in friendships and meeting people at church. Why chit chat with people I will likely never see again since we are due to leave? Perhaps borderline anti-social, I remember the meet and greet portion of services attended as a kid with a special kind of uncomfortableness. I would often make that the exact moment to head for the ladies room, conveniently returning to my seat when that part concluded.

I have this other friend who is an open person. Until someone shows their crazy, she welcomes them with open arms. I, on the other hand, tend to be more closed off. Not as a defensive posture, but more from a self-protective nature. I tend to want to make sure someone isn’t crazy BEFORE letting them into my personal world. I often ask myself in situations what would she do?

So I thought about my Open Friend and how she would handle this. There’s a reason she has a billion virtual friends that she ACTUALLY knows. She’s open to it. By clicking a little button, I made the decision to be less guarded, and more accepting…more open and less closed off.

While silly and trivial in the big scheme of things, I’ve found that it’s the little things that all add up to the bigger picture of our nature. I want to be less like my closed off, fearful, self-protective by nature, and more open to people and new experiences.

All it took was the metaphorical click of a button to choose:

acceptance

graciousness

bravery

honesty

openness

risk

love.

And I chose to chat with a lovely couple at church. (Even though it was initiated by my daughter’s insistence that she have a cookie.) I have never once regretted being open to new people, even if I forget that at times.

What about you? Are you a naturally open person or self protective?

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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!

Gratitude

Ah, gratitude.

It’s hard at times to cultivate a posture of gratefulness. There are days when it’s just not easy.

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Today is not that day. It’s Thanksgiving. And instead of blowing up the Facebook newsfeed with daily gratitude thoughts (which are nice), I decided to post my gratitude days in one giant post. Here are 20 things (in no particular order) that I am grateful for right now:

1. My Family

I’m missing my sister and her family, who moved a state away at the end of summer. But I’m so happy for them being able to live where they want, how they want. I can’t wait to see their place when we come to visit. I look forward to Christmas when they will be back to celebrate with us. I love the family Eric and I have created. Despite the normal parenting beat-your-head-against-the-wall days, I am still so very grateful for the minions, and the lessons they are teaching me everyday. Today we will have a feast with my parents and get to watch my kids climb all over them! I am thankful for family.

2. Health

You don’t appreciate it until you don’t have it, or so the saying goes. I am thankful for my family’s health. I’m thankful for learning about healthy living and eating well to nourish our bodies, and putting physical fitness into action. I’m beyond grateful that I’ve had the opportunity, and the energy, to model this for my kids. I’m glad I’m active and healthy enough to keep up with them!

3. Laughter

I love to laugh. Growing up, making my parents belly laugh was immense fun. I would go to great lengths to make them laugh, even lying in wait behind a door to startle my dad, who would freak out, but then chuckle and call me names! Even today, I like the sound of a big guffaw from my dad, or the silent-can’t-breath-convulsion-near-hyperventilation laugh of my mom. My husband, by nature, is not a laugh-out-loud kind of person. It takes something VERY funny to bring that out. I love being the one who can. My kids’ laughter is like music in soul. I love the uncontrollable giggles at whatever randomness they find amusing – like when I tickle them, or threaten to pinch their cute little butts all the way up the stairs as they scramble up as fast as they can to avoid mom’s “crabby hands that go pinch, pinch, pinch!” Laughter is my favorite medicine.

4. The Sun

I’m thankful that even on cold days, the sun has been out. I love the sun. The more places we live, the more I realize that I am a fair-weather girl. I need sunlight on my skin, the warmth reaching through to chase out the cold-to-the-bone raw iciness of winter. I need the vitamin D that chases away the winter grays and blues. The bonus is that these sunny days have provided cold-but-doable days at the play park to get the kids out of the house.

5. Friends

Old and new, near and far – I’m so very thankful for great friends. Real, authentic, see-me-in-my-p.j.s-and-morning-hair-and-still-wanna-hang-out friends. Friends who call from around the world for the 7 minutes we have to spare before going to bed/starting our day. Friends who while we may not talk daily, can pick up a conversation as if we do. Friends who are never far from our thoughts, those we bounce ideas off of, vent to, cry with, and smile for. Real friends are treasures for which I am extremely thankful.

6. Spin

I love spin. I don’t know if I love it more than running, but it may be a tie. Spin, especially in the winter here, is my current favorite way to get my much-needed endorphins, sweat out life’s frustrations and listen to some great music. It’ll cure what ails you.

7. Writing

Doing it for me, doing it for others – either way, I get to be creative, research, and learn. I love it and I’m thankful for the opportunity!

8. Vacation

The hubs has been on leave from work for almost 2 weeks. He’s taken over dish duty, early morning minion patrol, as well as preschool taxi service so I could get some vacation from the norm, too! I even got a few days to sleep in past 5am. There is no doubt I am thankful for the gift of sleep!

9. Grown-up playdates

Coffee and dinner dates with friends are one of my favorites. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been excited to have multiple dates over great food, coffee, and manicures – which result in wonderful conversation. Adult conversation is a gift beyond measure for someone who primarily converses with 3 and 5 year olds.

10.  Coffee.

If I have to explain this, you are not a coffee drinker and will probably not get it.

11. Anticipation

The holiday season is here and with it comes all the palpable energy of anticipation. I love watching the kids getting excited for the festivities to come. Often the anticipation and excitement are better than the actual events. Viewing holiday traditions and get togethers through the lens of my kids’ eyes is magic.

12. Food

Yum. I love Thanksgiving and all the trimmings. I also love starting new traditions and rethinking old favorites into healthier versions. I’m making scratch stuffing for the first time today. I can’t wait!

13. Funny inside jokes

I love those moments between Eric and I when we are sharing an inside joke, or spelling out things in front of the kids that we don’t want them to hear. It’s just fun.

14. Books, blogs, and magazines

Having a voracious appetite for reading, I love all kinds of books. I’m thankful for the many mediums to learn and read. Blogs, magazines, websites, and books to dig into, ask questions, get curious, escape into adventure and grow from are limitless.

15. Time

Grateful for time spent with my family, our kids, just the two of us, friends, or even just time to be alone. Deployments put time into steep perspective. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” -Mae West.

16. The Ocean

Simple words from my keyboard will never do it justice, but there is something about the ocean that I love and am grateful for. When I stand at the edge of the sea, I am reminded of the vastness of God, the universe and our planet. I am once again reminded that I am so very small. But, like the tiny peoples and grains of sands under my feet, I’m also reminded that small things, when grouped together, can do great things. I am grateful for the metaphors of nature.

17. Lessons Learned by Being a Military Spouse

The list is too long to count here, but there are some valuable lessons I’ve learned by being a military spouse. The community of spouses from all walks of life that come together over the thread of common experience is astounding to me. It proves in a small way that all kinds of people with differing viewpoints and backgrounds can get along – and thrive – despite hardships, heartbreaks, and distance. I am proud and thankful to be among the ranks of some of the strongest people I know.

18. Preschool

Yes, I am thankful for preschool. Not only for the mommy breaks it provides for 2 and half hours three days a week, but for the chance for the minions to play with other kids, to learn, and gain the foundation they will use for the rest of their lives:

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19. The Basics.

Food, shelter, clothing, transportation, running water, etc. We live a very comfortable life. I am grateful for it and hope to never take it for granted. Life is so good.

20. Gratitude

Yes, it’s kind of circular, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to be thankful. I hope to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in my kids, that they always look for things for which to be grateful. Hard times are made that much easier by taking the time to look to the positive, and to have a posture of gratitude.

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What are you thankful for today?

Tough Mudder and My Glass Case of Emotion

We have this thing in our house: we love Will Ferrell. This scene above from the movie Anchorman has become a reminder to laugh when things get overwhelming. As I sat lost in thought about my new swim-bike-run sticker getting ready for Tough Mudder this weekend, my husband looked over at me and asked, “Are you in a glass case of emotion?!” (This is of course belted out in his best Ron Burgundy voice.) Yes, I was. And I still am.

Tough Mudder is like nothing else. It really is no joke. Last year I signed up for this race event when it came through Seattle, but due to illness and hubby being deployed, I just couldn’t do it. I am certain I made the right decision to delay. I never would have survived. I had no team, and a team is indeed what you need. I have mixed feelings about this race. There are so many things I loved about it! I reconnected with a childhood friend for this one!

Tough Mudder with CP
We were in elementary school together!

11+ miles of obstacles and muddy fun. Tough Mudder comes complete with electro shock therapy, mud, muddy water, ice baths, and heights.  Ah, the heights. (No, sadly I’m not referring to the ill-fated early 90’s sitcom spin-off.) Heights as in serious alto phobia – the irrational fear of heights. I can get on a plane. I can climb up a few steps on a ladder. I have a visceral reaction to carnival rides. I literally wanted to vomit, cry, and poop my pants when faced with this:

Walk the Plank

The “Walk the Plank” obstacle is a 20 ft plunge into a mud pond. I can swim. I have no problem with water. I can even dive. It’s the free fall drop that I can’t make myself do. Not that I didn’t try. Oh, my did I try. I felt like hot acid was being poured into my gut.

Tough Mudder sucks

Fear is not a good look. I was wrestling with myself trying to force myself to just do the damn thing. I really wanted to be the one to face this fear and come up through the other side.

Tough Mudder with help

The first aid dude even came up to jump it with me. He was rooting for me. They all were. Sadly, I just couldn’t do it. (I’m literally trying not to puke on this guy.) I shame-walked back down and met up with the rest of the team and on we went. Black wetsuit dude stopped me and gave me the biggest muddy bear hug and whispered in my ear, “Girl, you got up there and tried. It ain’t no joke facing fear. It’s tough. You did good. There is no shame in that.”

And as I sit here in the coffee shop relieving it, I’m wiping away the tears of frustration that I just couldn’t do it. And yes, I’m in my glass case of emotion thinking about the graciousness of that guy and how he really didn’t have to say anything to me at all. He could have said nothing. I’m so glad he spoke up. As I ran the next leg wiping away wet anger spewing from my eyes, I knew I had two choices. I could either cry and bitch in my head for the remaining 10 or so miles and mentally beat myself up and have a miserable time, or I could wipe away the hot sting and do my damnedest to get through every other obstacle to the best of my ability.

I chose the latter.

Tough Mudder walls That’s me climbing over walls! With the assistance of a kick ass team – I climbed over walls, rocks, slid down a 60ft mud hill, and experienced Arctic Enema. That was a thrill like no other!

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Obviously, this is not me, but you get the idea. It’s a double-length dumpster that you jump into on one side, have to submerge completely to get to the other side, and when you come up, you realize that it’s SOLID ICE. Before your body is completely numb, you have to heave your body out. It’s insane. I loved it. I kind of wanted to do it again. There were other obstacles – climbing through drains filled with muddy water, icy floats on your back clinging to chain link fence where only your face peeks out to breath.

Even Mt. Everest:

Mt. Everest 2
Taking a run up a wall! (a few times!)

Mt. Everest conquered I finally did it on the 4th or 5th attempt. It was crazy hard.

Tough Mudder Mt. Everest

And it was crazy fun.

Tough Mudder

I actually didn’t get shocked. I strategized my movements and slithered through! Kind of feel like I cheated. But apparently, the Tough Mudder people didn’t think so:

 

The Headband is mine

Cause I got my orange headband!

Band in hand, I went off to retrieve my bag and catch up with my family.  Stopped twice by different volunteers, they each came up to ask if I was the one that couldn’t Walk the Plank. I affirmed that it was me. Steeling myself for the pity, I looked up to discover myself in another hug, and a hearty clap on the back. I was told I was awesome despite the lack of a jump. “Even people who do jump can’t finish this race. You done good, kid.”

And you know what? There’s always next year…

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.”

Fartleks, Minions, and It Was All My Neighbor’s Fault

Sometimes I question my sanity.

I got up early (before the sun) hit the early spin class, was feeling great and got hubby off to work and was determined to play hard with the minions. It’s been sunny the past couple of days, but the rain is coming. It ALWAYS comes. And then we will be stuck inside for a few months. Yay Pacific Northwest!

We started off after breakfast with a bike ride to our favorite playground; played hide-and-seek, chase, and practiced monkey bars. (Good cross training for Tough Mudder!) We came back for a break, some lunch and then decided to get an ice cream cone.

Later, our neighbors came over to chat. They are headed out-of-state in a couple of weeks as he will be running a marathon and is currently in the throes of training. Not only was he all covered in an 18 mile run endorphin high, but he was flaunting his Tough Mudder sweat band.

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Ugh. That thing forever haunts me.

I’ve been taking bodypump and spin classes at the gym, but I have only been running once a week. I’ve missed it.  Talking with my runner neighbors about the joys and pains of running sealed the deal. I needed a run. I was completely green with endorphin envy.

The minions were asking to go to another playground so I decided it was the perfect idea to run intervals while they rode their bikes. I should always reconsider a plan when it seems perfect. The run there was great. (It’s down hill and I got some great sprints in.) We got to the playground and played for a bit, then one minion had an accident. Time to call it a day.

Climbing back uphill, pushing kids on bikes (they needed ‘boosts’ all the way home), one minion tries to pass the other, 4 skinned knees, 1 pair of wet pants, crying and helmets all askew – this did not add up to a “perfect run”.

I think tomorrow I’ll be heading to the gym.  Then maybe a run….solo, of course!

Birthday. Or as I like to call it, Birthmonth.

Why not have the whole month instead of just a day to celebrate how awesome you are?!

Birthdays are just fun. I love birthdays, and have since I was a kid. As an adult, it’s usually not as acceptable to run around telling everyone, “Hey! It’s my birthday!!!!” as you would when you are 5. (Much the way my son and daughter do!) Now with social media, family and friends can get “reminded” of your birthday so you get TONS of birthday wishes on your big day – all day long! GENIUS! It just makes you feel loved.

This year my husband, who rarely is able to keep a surprise for me secret for long, had been plotting for a few months. He conspired with some of my friends and made a lovely video of them wishing me a happy birthday. It was awesome. I full on ugly cried.

I think I was touched by the fact that people usually don’t say these types of things to your face. It was awesome, and I LOVED it, though it made me miss our faraway friends!

After playing with the kids in the morning, my sweet niece came to watch the minions while we had a night out. It was Prowler Ball (Electronic Attack Squadrons all get together for a pseudo “prom”, but instead of tuxes, everyone is in their dress/dinner white uniform!) Cocktails, dinner, dancing – KIDLESS for an evening! It was so much fun! We had great adult conversation, with HOT meals, all gussied up! I even wore heels that I haven’t worn in years – and didn’t fall down! We even dusted off our dance moves that we haven’t used in about 6 years.

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This was by far one of my favorite birthdays to date. Thank you family and friends for such wonderful words, birthday wishes and taking the time to conspire with my wonderful husband!

I definitely feel loved.