Reading Stories

“Mama,” Hannah looked up at me.

“Yes?” I asked, distractedly.

“I hate the part of reading when you are almost done and you know the book is almost over. Especially if it’s a really really good one!”

“I couldn’t agree more,” I told her. She now had my full attention. One thing I have always loved is reading with the minions. I couldn’t wait until they were finally old enough to enjoy Harry Potter. Hannah loves Amelia Bedelia, as well as Ramona Quimby- one of my absolute favorites. Jacob is also a voracious reader, inhaling any books about subjects that interest him (currently WWII). On the fiction side he reads any James Patterson book he can get his hands on and we’ve read all of the Magic Treehouse series.

Novels, movies, blogs, music, television series – form is not important. Getting lost in a great story is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. My hope was that my kids would enjoy stories – reading specifically – just as much. We read some Minecraft books a few year a ago, a not-so-scary Stephen King novella, and some Judy Blume. Sometimes we take turns each reading a chapter, other times I’m just tired and they read to me. Most of the time I read aloud.

We start reading just a chapter of a book and then I’ll say, “Ehhh…that one’s no good. We probably shouldn’t keep reading it…”

“NO NO NO! Mama please keep reading!!!!” They both plead. “Pleeease!”

“If you’re sure…” I continue to drag out the drama of my reluctance, silently cheering in my mind that they are excited (finally) about a selection I have chosen.

Tonight we started one of the first books I remember reading as a class in Mr. Ziegler’s 5th grade; Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. It’s a classic and most of the time when I pull an old book off the shelf, the kids groan and won’t give it a chance; hence my new ‘give it one chapter and then decide’ tactic. It worked like a charm.

“Just one more chapter????”

“Sure. Just one more…,”

…as they have to convince me to keep reading.

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The Story I Keep Telling

There’s this story that keeps playing on a continuous loop in the back of my mind. It’s the one where I lost some weight, got fit, discovered passions, strengths, and gifts I didn’t know were there. And the beginning of this story took place in paradise. Once we moved, I still maintained the passion, but over time it slowly became more and more difficult to fan those embers into a full-on fire. That’s when the story first started taking root. The one that said, “Used to…”

“I used to be really into fitness”
“I lost 50 pounds while living in Hawaii. But we don’t live there anymore”
“I used to run races. I even ran a marathon once”
“We aren’t surrounded by fitness people. It makes it harder”
“I ran 300 miles in one year a few years ago. I set a new goal, but I’m doubting whether it’s do-able…”
“I’ve lost some of that strength I used to have”
“I don’t run as fast as I used to”
“We’ve been moving all summer. Then unpacking, getting the kids settled into their new school…”
“I don’t have time”
“I’ll get back there…someday”
“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to run at those paces again…”

On it continues as the “I used to…” storyline grows deeper, more entrenched and with longer roots. Here’s the thing; that ellipses … where the story trails off into the unknown – that is the point where I have control to change the story, to take it in whatever direction I choose. I get to choose. I have the power to write that story with whatever ending I desire. As long as I’m willing to put in the effort, hard work and time – the story is mine to create.

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I ran a quick little run with my dog this morning. No music, no agenda, and no checking my pace on my watch. The only thing I looked at was my heart rate monitor. During a strenuous bootcamp workout, a cardio burst will elevate my heart rate to 155-167 bpm (beats per minute). That’s where I’m breathing heavily out of my mouth, gasping and can only maintain that level of activity for about a minute. It’s full out exertion. I was running along quickly and felt like I needed to slow down to walk. I started walking and checked my heart rate. It was at 92 bpm. I was hardly exerting myself. Ding ding ding!

The story that I couldn’t run as fast as I used to has been playing repeatedly for so long I hardly noticed it anymore. I had just accepted it. Seeing that puny 92 flipped the switch – I ran. I ran quick (stopping of course to let the dog pee!) but I ran. And ran. When it felt like I “should” slow down to walk I reminded myself that I wasn’t dying. Yes I was breathing heavily, but why stop? I wasn’t gasping, panting or ready to pass out.

I set an aggressive yearly mileage goal. Moving in the middle of the year and January-June feeling as if I had all the time in the world, I procrastinated. I was setting myself up to complete the bullshit story.  Am I having to push now at the end of the year to get the miles in? You bet. It’s just evidence that I am in control of the outcome. Hard? Sure. Impossible? Nope. Not a chance.

When I plugged in my watch to update my mileage I saw paces I used to see all the time. 7:33, 8:45, 9:30….many sub-10 minute mile paces. Today I let go of that story that says I used to, that I can’t do it anymore.

Because I’m doing it.