Monday, November 29, 2010

Passion, Determination and The Will To Run

I grew up hearing stories of my dad.  I heard all about his strong will, his dreams, things he said and did. My mom would tell me that I was his "little princess" and that he loved me so much.  I heard about his love and passion for running and how he would run every day in the mountains of Dillon, Colorado no matter the weather.  She told me of his dreams to someday run fast enough to qualify for the Olympics.  I heard  of  his will to fight and his determination to not give up when both of his legs were smashed in an accident and he was told he would never walk again.  I heard the stories about how he not only taught himself to walk again but he was able to run again right before he died. These are only stories to me because my dad died when I was 4.  I grew up wishing that I knew these things for myself and that I had my own stories about him to remember.  I always wished so badly that I would have known him and been able to hear him tell me he loved me.  

It wasn't until I started running and experiencing the pure joy of how it fills my soul so deeply, that I finally felt my dad in my life.  When I would run, I often felt as if my dad was running with me and telling me he loved me.  Discovering myself as a runner made me feel a connection to my him that I never had before and because of this, running was quite an emotional experience for me at first.  Discovering the joy of running also made me realize just how happy my dad must have been right before he died.  What joy he must have felt to have started to run again after being told he would never again walk!  What Pure Joy!

Today I got several boxes from my Aunt that were filled with old pictures and keepsakes from my grandparents' house.  I wasn't prepared for the emotions that would hit me tonight as I looked through my dad's baby pictures, pictures as child, baby clothes, letters he had written to my grandparents about us kids and his life, and so much more. 

Here are just a few pictures of the things that I connected with the most. 

My Dad. Texas Relays 1967


Medals from 1966 and 1967.  I wish I would have listened more carefully when my grandfather took me to my dad's high school in Texas to show me his record in the mile that stood for so long.  Back then, a race time didn't mean much to me.  All I can remember is that his high school time was a sub 4:30.  I want to say 4:15 but that would only be my best guess.  I wish I could call my grandfather and have him tell me the story again. 




After my hamstring tear this past August, I went through a very difficult time.  I was so depressed and I wanted to run again so badly. It felt as if all the months of work I had put into marathon training was a waste.  I could see my goals of running a 3:15 marathon just fly away with the wind and there was nothing I could do about it.   I was in denial that my leg was as bad as it was and continued to try to run even though I could barely walk and the bruising covering my leg made it obvious that things were not okay.  I was stupid and stubborn.  That's when my mom reminded me of the stories about my dad and his determination to run.  Her story really put things in perspective for me.  I'm so glad I asked her to write it down because it is a beautiful:

Passion and Determination
In light of my daughter's recent injury (torn hamstring) while training for the Portland marathon that is coming up in October, I'm reminded of the drive, determination, and passion of an athlete.  Watching Amanda struggle with the different opinions of her doctors, her frustration over the possibility of not running the marathon she's been training so hard for, and her strong will to heal and keep running despite the pain and the well-meaning advice from everyone to just rest, reminded me of another athlete who was once in my life.


My late husband (Amanda's father) was a runner, too.  In our first few years together he never missed his morning run, ten miles through the forest near our mountain home.  He ran through snow, rain and sometimes even if he wasn't feeling very well.  On April 1, 1980 David and I decided to take a drive to Denver (we lived near Silverthorne, CO) and visit some friends.  On the east bound side of the tunnel the roads began to get icy, and before we knew it we were driving on black ice.  We were inching along I-70 at about 15 miles per hour when we saw a car lose control and slide off in a ditch, a woman and child.  We got off at the first exit we could, and turned around to help them out of the ditch.  By the time we got to them other cars were beginning to pull off to the side of the road due to the dangerous conditions.  David was hooking up the needed equipment to pull the car out of the ditch when all of a sudden someone driving way too fast lost control of their truck, pinning David between our truck and theirs.  We didn't have cell phones then, and were in an area where there wasn't anyplace to go for help.  Thankfully, someone in one of the other cars along the side of the road had a CB Radio, and they called for help.  It was 7:00 PM before an ambulance could make it to David. (the accident happened at 5:00 PM!).  While we waited people from the other cars brought him blankets to keep him as warm as possible.  The ambulance transported him a little ways down the mountain where he was then airlifted by Flight For Life to the nearest hospital in Denver.


David almost died that night.  Both of his legs were broken so severely that he needed massive blood tranfusions, steel rods in both femurs, and numerous bands, pins and screws to piece his bones back together.  David spent three months with his legs hanging in traction (pure torture for a runner who never missed his daily run).  I lost track of the number of surgeries he had to endure over the course of a year and a half.  The doctors were seriously doubtful that he'd ever walk again.  David didn't let that deter him, though.  After about a year he taught himself to walk!  It was like watching a baby taking his first steps.  He'd take a step or two, and then he'd fall to the ground.  He'd get back up and do it again, and again.  Two years after the accident he was starting to run again!


I wish I could say he is running marathons again.  However, in October of 1982 David was killed when a ditch he was working in caved in on him.  His passion for running, strong will, and determination lives on in our children.  Both Jesse and Amanda have the same love for running that David did.  His spirit lives on in them.

Amanda

Winner Of Pretty Ink Designs!

Good Morning!  I woke up extra early this morning with every intention of having alone time to read, check e-mail, drink my coffee, reflect and set some goals for the week.  So far, it is working out for me but I hear children stirring so I'm hearing my time running out! 

Congratulations to Stacie from Impossible Is Nothing for winning 50 free holiday cards from Pretty Ink Designs!!!  Contact Kelly at prettyinkdesigns@gmail.com and let her know you are the winner of Amanda's giveaway!  I will contact her too.  I would love to see your cards when they are done.  Thanks for participating and for spreading the word about Pretty Ink Design. 

Running
My goal of building a base back is going well.  I've been able to run almost every day for awhile now.  I don't always get around to logging my runs but I'm definitely feeling stronger again.  It feels so good to be regaining my running legs again.  I'm trying to be a little careful because I slipped on a blanket on our hardwood floors the other day and felt the really tender part of my lower hamstring give a hard pull.  I think it just tore a little bit and I can feel slight pain.  Hoping it isn't anything that won't heal very quickly. 
Goals:
*  Start adding some speed work into my weekly workouts
*  Definitely do strength training (i.e.  get buff workouts like Jillian) at least once a week.
*  Seriously start considering and weighing the pros and cons of joining a Running Club called Team Athena

Connecting Spiritually
I find myself feeling a disconnect with my spiritual side recently.  Keeping my relationship and connection with God strong is important to me.  I'd really like to carve out a time during my every day to meditate on gratitude, love, and ways I can improve my character and give to others.  I want to use this time praying and having a conversation with God and I believe there are many ways to do this!  I've been a horrible slacker with my spiritual life lately! 
Goals:
*  Take 10-20 minutes a day of just silent time where I pray, meditate with yoga, or journal a prayer and list of gratitude. 
*  Find myself saying thank you often...to God and the ones I love!

Health
It is so easy around this time of year to fall into a pattern of just eating and eating and eating.  And eating whatever is in the fridge...stuffing, ham, turkey, pie, pasta....  This holiday eating is catching up to me and not just with the way my body looks but with the way my body FEELS!  The way we eat directly affects so many other aspects of our life.  We truly ARE what we eat.  When I eat junk, my brain, body and energy feels like Junk! 
Goals:
Make healthy food choices that will be good for me mentally, physically...my whole self!
*  Bring back Udo's Oil into my diet.  Such a great source of essential fatty acids!  I was taking this stuff regularly for a long time and just recently have fallen off the wagon.  It is pricey but some great stuff!




Motherhood
When I am teaching in the classroom, I am fully passionate and alive!  I get so involved and excited about my job.  Building relationships with my students and teaching them in ways that they learn and find success is something I do with my whole heart.  It is a job I am in love with.  I love reading about it, writing about it, and teaching about it!  It is a passion!  Now that I have made my decision to be a stay at home mom for awhile, I need to find my balance so that I stay focused and bring intention and passion to my every day!
Goals:
*  To be just as passionate and ambitious in my daily life as a mother as I am when I am in the classroom.
*  Be intentional with the time I spend with my kids, what I do with my day and the choices I make as a mother, wife, self. 

Wife/Marriage
Okay, I know this is total CHEESE and might actually be rather gag-like annoying to read. Definitely worth a few eye rolls from some of you but my husband is pretty deserving of the occasional blog shout out since he is my biggest support!  I rarely write about my husband on here but after a girl weekend of watching romantic sappy movies, I came home so excited to see him and hold him tight.  He is truly the most important person in my entire world.  He is everything I've ever dreamed up and more.  He's my best friend, my love, my life.  He is the whole ball of wax...intellectually, emotionally, professionally, socially, spiritually, creatively and more.  He challenges me to reach my goals and dream big and he supports me every step of the way. There is never a dream I share with him that he doesn't believe in...as a runner, a professional, a wife, mother, etc.  I've never met a more patient and giving person and I think many would agree. I am eternally grateful for him and never want to imagine life without him in it.  It is easy to get busy with life...parenting, work, house repairs, etc. and forget to take quality time for each other.  We usually spend a fair amount of time together or near each other but I'd like to start being more focused  with him and shutting out other distractions (computer, t.v, kids, house work) so that we can give our 100% to each other more often.   
Goals:
*  Be conscious about telling my husband Thank You and letting him know just how much I appreciate all he does! 
*  Finding time each week to shut all distractions out and just enjoy each other, talk, share goals, laugh, etc. 









What is something you want to be more intentional and focused about this week? 

Amanda

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Last Two Days of Giveaway

Yeah, Yeah, yeah, I know that my custom holiday card/ birth announcement giveaway isn't the biggest hit with all my running community bloggers.  Note to self: Next time give away something like running tights, or some cool power food, or reflective gear for running at night.  However, if you are like me and still have not made a holiday card to send out to friends and family and would love FREE cards (really nice ones) , check out my Pretty Ink Designs Giveaway!  Even if it is just to check out Pretty Ink Designs and share it with friends and family who might be interested.  I like supporting small businesses and unique designers branching out in this world.

I'm really loving reading about your Thanksgiving and Black Friday stories!

Amanda

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fartleking. It's Okay For Runners.

It's Fart LEK people.  Not Fart Lick! 

fart·lek (färtˈlĕk)
noun
  1. An athletic training technique, used especially in running, in which periods of intense effort alternate with periods of less strenuous effort in a continuous workout.
  2. A workout using this technique.



video




What about you?  Do you use the term Fartlek?


Happy Fartleking,


Amanda

Getting the Right Picture


I LOVE Thanksgiving! It is my favorite holiday of the year.  I love everything about it....the food, the traditions of sharing our gratitude formally, the table cloths and napkins, the fancy dishes, and of course the Family!  I love that we have so many people stuffed into my small house.  Everyone is here just to be together and enjoy the present moment.  I love the slowness of it all.  How it takes all morning to cook and prepare and then we eat and eat and eat and play games and watch movies.  An entire day of just piling into one home and slow cooking with the people we love. 

I think one of the things I love the most is the traditions we are setting for our children.  Seeing my kids get so excited yesterday was priceless.  My 5 year old's face was lit up in a huge smile and look of pride when everyone was tearfully sharing their gratitude cards and it was her turn to read.  My sister-in-law and brother came this year for the first time.  My daughters thought it was so special to learn how to fold napkins like Aunt Ninew was teaching them to and they took such joy in helping make the dips (even though they were making the biggest mess ever). 

We even had my mom try to get some good family pictures to use for a Christmas Card this year.  I'll admit, I'm one of those moms that sets her family up in front of a camera every year in hopes of getting a good Christmas Card picture if I don't have one from the year where all of us are together.  I can see the eye rolls even before the first shot.  They know I keep taking them over and over again until I get the perfect one.  By perfect I don't mean we all have to be sitting still and smiling and looking perfectly pretty (just me.  :))...I'm all about REAL.  But I want a shot that captures our family and doesn't make anyone look too distorted or ridiculous.  I mean I'm sending these pictures to many many people that have not seen our family in a long time so this picture is really them seeing us when we can't be there.  I love it when we had the perfect shot during the year that we can use but too often it comes down to squeezing a photo session in right before I look into getting the cards done.  I really am thinking that this year we will just send one of the funnier ones or less than perfect ones because I. Am. Sick. Of. Pictures!  And really, this is my year to start being all about keeping things REAL right?! 











I love that my youngest wanted to wear his new green boots but they are way too big on him and kept falling off every few minutes so half the photo shoot was spent chasing him and putting his boots on!  It made for a fun photo shoot.  Hopefully we'll find one out of the many to use for our card.  Speaking of holiday cards, please don't forget about my Giveaway that ends this Sunday! 

I am really hoping to fit a run in today and burn off some of the copious amounts of food I ate yesterday!  Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

So much for that Blog Burn Out that I mentioned.  I think it came and went. 

Amanda

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Running With My Big Bro


There is something about a run with my brother on a cold Thanksgiving morning that is beyond special to me.  So special in fact, that I had to sneak back here and write a quick blog.  Gosh, what has this blog thing done to me?!  But seriously, running with my brother brings with it a huge bag of memories and meanings.  Most my memories of my brother growing up involve him running.  Our dad died when my brother was about six years old (I was 4 and my younger bro was 1) and it was almost as if he grew up instantly.  Instead of doing the normal things that boys his age did, he spent his free time running.  He would run up to 10 miles a day sometimes.  Running was so much a part of his life.  We spent many weekends going to his races in Colorado and once he started track and cross country,  his races became a family event.  When he did something to warrant a grounding from our parents, they had nothing to take away from him but his running.  Ha!  Was that ever funny to watch. Poor kid probably just needed some serious therapy sessions to get to the root of his obsessive compulsive behavior but it was funny to watch him try to do run laps around his small bedroom just to feel like he didn't miss out completely on his daily running.  

It was my big brother that convinced me to join the cross country team when I was a freshman in high school.  Up until then I would make fun of running and say that it took no talent.  I mean all you had to do was move your arms and legs, right?! I think I mostly said that to get his goat but eventually I started believing that running was stupid.  I was motivated to join the cross country team just as a way to have a social life since my mom insisted on having me in homeschool for several years.  I'm so THANKFUL for my brother and his part in helping me discover running.  It has been one of the biggest loves of my life since then! It also was a way for me to feel connected to my dad since he was a runner.  Running was his passion and having it become my passion was like having my dad near me. It was so amazing to discover a talent that I never knew I had.  It was as if it set me free.  Free to mourn the death of my dad, discover myself, express my emotions, and experience a joy that I never knew life had to offer.

My brother eventually grew up to be a normal guy and enjoy life outside of running. Well, I wouldn't exactly say we are normal but we like it that way.   And now here he is with his wonderful wife and unborn child on Thanksgiving day with us! Thank you big brother...for our runs, for our childhood together, and for getting me to join cross country so many years ago! 

Randomness:

*  Having a love/hate relationship with Blogging lately.  Maybe a blog burn out? I realize that I have blogged every single day for about a month now.  I'm an all or nothing girl.  When I decide to pick something up for the first time, I go all out and can get a bit obsessive (runs in the family).  I'm ready to bring it down a notch and remind myself why I started blogging....for ME.  As a way to express myself and have an outlet for my thinking.  I didn't start blogging to collect "followers" like pins on my letter jacket in high school.  I didn't start blogging so other bloggers would comment and "like" me.  I started blogging for ME!  And that is what I have to keep it as...a REAL form of expression of thinking from my Mind.  If I make a few friends in the process, then that is just icing on my blog cake.  :) 

*  Thinking back to August when I ripped up my hamstring from a fall in the forest, I can see how far I've come in such a short amount of time.  It has seemed like forever but really, in the long scheme of things, I am fortunate to have healed so quickly.  So grateful for my legs.  Not just to run, but to be active.  To walk, dance, and skip.  Legs to play with kids on.  So very thankful for these legs!

Happy Thanksgiving,


Amanda

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wee Words Wednesday



This was a picture that my daughter drew for my awesome chiropractor at Back In Motion Sports Clinic.  They framed it and put it in their office and posted it on their Facebook Page.  So thankful for recovery and being able to Run again!  Thanks Dr. Forcum!  The Whole Family is Happier!


Amanda

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter Storm of 2010

SNOW in Portland!
Yes, that's right folks.  Schools are canceled, the meteorologists are getting more action than they've seen in a long time, and the entire city of Portland is moving slower than usual.  All this because of maybe an inch or two of snow!  I remember the first winter I spent in Oregon. I thought it was so funny (and ridiculous that school was canceled because of an inch of snow that melted before noon.  Being a Colorado girl, I was used to walking to school in 3 feet of snow and not being able to see the roads for weeks at a time.  (Disclaimer:  When it snows even a little bit in Portland, it can be dangerous because of all the rain turning to ice on the roads so the "winter freak out" really is warranted.  Just funny.) Here's a picture of our friend Cindy enjoying the early morning snow.


I'm not really quite sure how Cindy came to be part of our family.  I'm pretty sure she was one of the many creations that my husband made with the kids when I was off at the gym or on a run or something.  She's always around now though.  She even helped us pass out candy on Halloween while we went off to trick-or-treat.  She's so excited about the snow!

This weather even makes for some good early morning cross training.  Nothing like some good "sled pulling" intervals to get your heart rate up AND win you brownie points in the mom department!

video



Gratitude Cards
On another note.  It is great having a daughter that can write now!  My 5 year old was in charge of our gratitude cards this year.  These are the cards everyone will write on before our Thanksgiving feast.  And yes, I make everyone share around the table.  Even though I get some eye rolls and groans of complaint about this, I know that deep down, everyone appreciates this tradition.  This is what happens when you take a teacher out of the classroom.  My traditions only get worse the longer I'm not teaching.





Running to Relieve Stress
I know that lots of blogging runners have written about how running helps to make them feel better and have more to give as a mother, wife, and person, etc.  I think this topic will come up again and again in my life and as I continue to read other blogs about running.  There is really no replacement for what a Run can do for my mood.  Last night I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed with all the noise in the house, the list of things to get done before Thanksgiving, having so many people needing me at once, the puddle of wine all over my floor from the bottle that my 16 month old knocked over....it was all just a little too much at once!  Before going to my book club down the street, I went on a short but fast run around the neighborhood.  It was truly as if I could feel the stress of the day just melt off of me with each step.  Every stride, every breath was making me feel whole again.  I came home, grabbed my book and purse and headed off to book club feeling like a new ME!  I'm so thankful for Running.  There is no better medicine for renewing my spirits, clearing my mind, re-energizing  and refocusing on the important things in life.  Running is definitely at the top of my Gratitude List for Thanksgiving and every day!


Amanda


I know many of you are blogging about Shutterfly Holiday cards, you already have plans for your cards, or you just don't have any interest in holiday cards but if you are interested in getting your Holiday cards for free this year (or know of someone else in your life who would appreciate free custom designed cards or birth announcements), check out my Giveaway!

Monday, November 22, 2010

First Giveaway and Goals for The Week

Please Check out my Giveaway for a free set of holiday cards or birth announcements at Giveaway! Pretty Ink Designs Holiday Cards and Birth Announcements

Running Goals:
*  Continue to build a base and keep building back strength in my hamstring
*  Slowly add in more interval work and small amounts of speed
*  Consider a Race schedule for 2011 and possibly find some races for early in the year.
*  Look into possibly joining a women's running club: Team Athena.  Might be nice to have a team to do speed work with on Tuesday nights.

Nutrition:
*  Start being more conscious of eating more fruits and veggies.  Especially veggies.  This weekend and past week was awful for food choices. 
*  Find better ways of getting my 16 month old to eat veggies!

Motherhood:
*  Be present with my children
*  Try to find time to spend reading with each one.
*  Not letting my to-do list take precedence over spending quality time with my kids

Happy Monday,
Amanda

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giveaway! Pretty Ink Designs Holiday Cards or Birth Announcements!


Photo Christmas Card

Peace Love Joy Holiday Photo Card

It's that time of year when some of you are starting to think about taking family holiday pictures and deciding on your holiday card to send out to friends and family!  Even if you are not one that sends out cards, or that celebrates the holidays, most of us know of someone who does.  I know that I love to get personalized cards in the mail!  I love seeing pictures of all my friends and family.  I also love getting birth announcements in the mail.  These special cards are always a joyful reminder of this beautiful life!
I'm excited to announce that the owner and designer at Pretty Ink Designs is giving away a set of 50 holiday cards or birth announcements to the lucky winner of this giveaway.  The quality and originality at Pretty Ink Designs is FABULOUS! I've always loved every card I've seen from her. When you win, all you'll need to do is choose a picture you want to use and contact Pretty Ink Designs with your order.  Who doesn't know someone who would love to have free custom designed Holiday Cards or Birth Announcements?!  I wish I could enter my own giveaway.

 This Giveaway will be open until November 28th and I will announce the winner on the morning of November 29th.

 So here's how to play. Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

*  Go to Pretty Ink Designs Facebook Page and "like" it and let me know you did (1 entry)

*  Go to  Pretty Ink Designs Etsy Page and tell me what card you would order if you won.  If you are interested in birth announcements, the designer is adding samples of those to her Etsy page soon.  Just let me know that you would want birth announcements.  (1 entry)

*  Be a follower of my blog

Optional:
*   Mention this giveaway (and include a link of this giveaway) on a blog post and let me know you did.  (2 entries)

*  Include a link to this giveaway somewhere on your blog page (and yes, let me know you did).
(1 entry)

*  Just for fun, If you have a blog, tell me why you started blogging and how long you've been doing it. 

Good luck and thanks for participating!
Amanda

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tree, Holiday Cards, Art, Thanksgiving and Other Randomness



1.  Okay, so is it too early to put our Christmas Tree up?  We usually wait until after Thanksgiving but  I really have the itch to do it today!  My husband says absolutely not!  But I say Why Not?! 

2.  This Tree topic makes me excited to tell you about my first giveaway that I have in the works for Monday!  I'm so excited because I wanted it to be a giveaway that isn't just for runners but something that will reach the interests of all kinds of people!  I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but most people either know of someone or they themselves have a use for some kind of announcement, invitation or Holiday Card! And what's better than getting a set of custom made cards, invitations, or announcements for free?! All you'll have to do is send in a picture that you want to use.  I have not ironed out the details yet but I'll have more to say about this giveaway soon! 

3.  Thank you for all your comments and feedback about the Cher Odum art I wrote about in The Beauty of Art, The Essence of a Runner.  She is definitely working on coming up with something new.  I know art is such a personal preference and what one person loves, another might take no interest in.  Such is the beauty of art!


 


4.  I ran 4 miles on the treadmill last night and reached another new level in my recovery!  Today I think I'm going to try to get in 6 at an easy pace. Good news is that I don't feel any pain in my hamstring!  I've been using my kinesio tape and stretching really good so this is helping.   Thinking of all you that are coming back from an injury...I know how hard it can be to not run!  Just keep focusing on the your goal and visualizing yourself running free and strong.  Visualizing and remaining focused on healing and strength help speed up the recovery process!

A shout out to several NW blogger runners who are running in the EWEB Run To Stay Warm .  Good luck ladies:   Elkton Runner, Little Fruit Fly, Laurie, and Kim!

5.  Holiday Traditions.  I'm so excited for Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  I love getting out my nice table cloths, dishes, decorations and music and making it a really nice dinner.  I know for some it is a more relaxed day with football and eating on the couch all day but for me it more of a fancy occasion.  I usually have everyone write down what they are thankful for (with some twist) and then we include them in our gratitude album where we can look back to all the past years and see how far we've all come in life. Everyone is so good about humoring me.  They even agree to share their gratitude cards at the table before we eat.  And the only thing that would make it more festive is a decorated TREE!  ;)





What are your Thanksgiving Traditions?

Amanda

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm Back!!! Pre Run Video

As every runner who has ever suffered from an injury knows... it. feels. AMAZING to be back!  I just walked in the house from my first solo run (without pushing a double jogger) since feeling almost 100%.  I had every intention of running in the pouring rain tonight.  Not because I particularly love running in the cold rain.  I don't.  But because I didn't have time to get to the gym and back before later plans tonight.  Luckily for me, it cleared up just in time for my run.  It was me, the night, and the giant rain puddles! 

Here is a video taken right before I left.  Don't you just love my fancy running clothes?!  :)  Especially the head lamp...my favorite for running at night. 


video


I don't have a GPS but if I take Google Map Pedometer and match it up with the time on my watch, then I ran in just around an average of 8 minute mile pace.  Judging from my inner runner GPS, at least part of the run was in sub 8 pace!  I feel Glorious.  I know I'm not completely 100% but I'm close.  Towards the end of the run I could feel my hamstring start to whisper a few cuss words at me to keep me in check. 

I read a few blogs today about people who get up super early to run before their day gets going.  I just can't get myself to like early morning runs.  It is like my body and mind are still sleeping and I just can't get moving.  I especially can't imagine running before I've had coffee!  I'll take night runs any day if I had to choose between night and early mornings.  What time of the day do you prefer to run?

Oh, and my friend just sent me this article 9 Tips For Your Night Runs
Happy to be back,
Amanda

The Beauty of Art, The Essence of a Runner

I love art. I love the emotions and passion that a painting can evoke.  I love how I can look at a painting or piece of art and feel so moved and inspired.  I also love how art is so personal. What one person might find beauty and meaning in, another person might not even give a second glance.  I love all kinds of art but I wanted to give a shout out to my favorite local artist here in Oregon, Cher Odum. Cher's work is colorful, vibrant, whimsical, and ENERGIZING.  Each piece is full of the passion, vibrant energy and peaceful mindfulness that she lives her life with.  When I see her work, it makes me happy.  It reminds me of the richness and glory of living.  Why I'm even more excited to introduce this artist to you is because she just announced today that she is going to be coming out with a new series of paintings inspired by the soul of a Runner!  In her own style, she will try to capture the essence of what running is to so many of us.  To many of us, there is a spiritual side to running and for most of us, running is our passion.  It gives us JOY and makes us feel fully and wonderfully ALIVE!  Cher's art already evokes these feelings in me so I'm thrilled to hear that she will be creating something that will relate specifically to running! I'm even more excited that when she does come out with this Running Series of paintings, she is going to give me a set of cards with prints of all her New Running Series paintings to use for my first blog giveaway to some lucky Runner that also loves her art!

I've included just a few small pictures sampling some of her different paintings.  Many of her pieces are in The Dragon Fire Studio and Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  You can view most of her paintings at the Fine Art America site. 



I have a print of this on a card that I framed and put in my living room.











She even has a series out for the animal lovers.  I love her abstract and colorful looking Cats!

*  All these pictures are protected by copyright law and use of them without permission by the artist is prohibited by law. 

This is a painting she was recently hired to paint for a birthday present for a friend's wife.  She was asked to paint the parents with their four children. The border is made up of pictures that represent meaningful things from this family's life.  Every image is something that holds a special memory to them.





Here's an idea of what her gift sets of cards look like.  This is just one boxed set of six cards that I bought where I got to choose my favorite prints to include.  If you know someone who has similar art tastes, it makes the perfect gift. I've often given these cards to people I know who will love them or I frame them in a 5x7 frame. 


In thinking about my first blog giveaway, I thought about giving a boxed set of her non-running cards and letting the lucky winner choose the prints they like but I'm not sure yet.  I think I might just wait for her to come out with her Running Series and see how that goes!   Definitely not for everybody but certainly art that speaks to me!  Such is the beauty of ART! 

Do you like art?  What kind of Art do you like and who is your favorite artist?

Amanda

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beyond Thankful


Thankful for comebacks.  Thankful for Running legs that remember.  For two content and happy kids that sit patiently in their carriage, covered in their Tinkerbell blanket while the rain pelts down and the wind sneaks in to tickle their faces.  Thankful for being able to run so hard that I can barely breathe out the words to The Wheels On The Bus and be in tune with the little voices coming from under the blanket. Thankful for time. For a baby sleeping, music playing and a 3 year old artist creating a masterpiece next to me as I type.

Thankful for all of the loving, thoughtful and supportive comments of encouragement that I received after posting my blog Big Decision; Limitless Life about my decision to quit my job and be at home.  I have received so many genuine and warm e-mails, comments,  and messages from friends and family (in real life and blog land).  I'm thankful for knowing that I'm not alone. I have more people that love and believe in me than I ever realized.  I'm also thankful that I have the choice to stay at home.  I know this isn't a choice every mother has or even a choice that every mother wants to have.  I am thankful for mothers that respect other mothers for the choices they make for themselves.  It doesn't make someone a better mom because they stay home or work outside the home.  I'm thankful that we all have our own choices to make for what works best for our life and I'm thankful for people that respect others for their decisions even when it is different from their own! 

Oh, and I'm thankful for winning a free 30 minute massage from Back In Motion Sports Clinic here in Portland, Oregon!  Woo hoo! 

I know asking what you're thankful for isn't an original question to end my blog with but it really does bring me joy to hear what others are thankful for.  So, what are you thankful for today?


My little one here just drew what she is thankful for today and she included it in her Thankful Can that we are filling up with gratitude so we can read them all on Thanksgiving Day.  Today she drew:

*  Her foot because she is thankful for being able to walk
*  Her Daddy because she is thankful for parents.

Amanda

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big Decision; Limitless Life

First Big Decision.  I think we've decided on our Christmas Card for the year.  Here it is:


Or how about this one:




On a serious note.  I really do have a big decision to make and it is part of the reason I've probably been feeling "stuck" lately or a bit on the lost side.  I have until February to officially make this decision but as with most things in my life, I'm always one step ahead of the game (not necessarily a good thing).  I have to decide whether I will return to my half-time job as a teacher or give up my position and decide to stay at home with my kids for who knows how long.  This isn't a decision I make lightly.  My career as a teacher is one that I love.  It fills me with so much joy and passion to be in the classroom building relationships with students and making a difference in their life and learning.  It is a "dream job" in my eyes.  But so is being a mother.  I've decided.  I'm making my decision official tonight for all the world to see (or really, just the few people that are reading this blog besides my mother).  I've decided to give up my teaching job and see where life takes me! 

Getting to this decision has been hard for me.  I know that in my heart I've always known the answer but there have been several things holding me back.  Mostly FEAR.  Fear always gets in the way of life and living fully.  Fear of what it means for me as an individual and the idea of losing myself.  Fear of becoming just a washed up pile of yoga pants, greasy hair, and no make-up while my mind slowly turns to mush after finger painting or drawing stick figures for the umpteenth time.  Fear of having no professional connections or letting my dreams of writing, getting my Doctorate, and becoming a professor of education fall through the cracks.  Fear of not having intellectual stimulation or inspiration to write.  Fear of what others will think of me as just a stay-at-home-mom or the assumptions that I don't have a "REAL" job.  Fear of hearing someone with good intentions say  "Aww, that is so cute that you get to stay at home with your kids and play all day" and wanting to just eat their face off!  So. Much. Fear. 

I am done living my life with fear and doubt.  I'm done playing life "Safe" and sticking to the rules that others set for me.  I'm ready to dream big and take chances.  I'm ready to live for the NOW and hold close the things that are the most dear to me.  I'm ready to push myself to new limits and decide to not let what others think of me hold me back. 

How did I come to this decision? 

Part of it is because of the words my mom said to me the other day after giving me two books about writing.  I asked her if she thought my blog was stupid and if she thought it looked pathetic that I was a stay-at-home-mom writing a blog.  Here is what she told me in so many words:

"Amanda, NO, I don't think it is stupid and you shouldn't care what others think.  I think this is a step in the right direction to where you want to go.  You've always wanted to be a Mom. You've always wanted to write.  Let this be your start.  We all have different chapters in our life.  Who says that being a teacher is something you have to do with the rest of your life?  It may just have been a chapter and now you are moving on to a new chapter.  Use this time to stay home with your kids for as long as you can.  For now, get better at writing and expressing your voice through blogging and then, when the kids are in school, you can write more.  Who knows what it will lead to.  Use this time to be an artist and create your life in a way you want it to go".  Right then and there a huge weight was lifted. I think it was then, that I really decided in my heart of hearts what I would do.

Katy Jo.  She's one of the biggest inspirations in my life lately and one of the biggest influences in helping me make my decision to give up my teaching job.  Katy is a senior in high school that lives around the corner from me.  Recently she lost her Mom to cancer.  I didn't know Katy until just about a month ago but I already love her and so do my children.  Having her hang out with me and share stories about her mother and her life fill my heart fully.  Talking to her last night on e-mail and today when she came to visit after school made me realize how short life is.  Too short to not do what you love and take advantages of the gifts and opportunities God gives us in life. Before we know it, life will be gone.  Hearing her tell stories of her Dear Mother is teaching me so much. I've learned from her Mother about motherhood through her daughter's stories of love.  Thank you Katy for reminding me just how important my job as a Mother is.  So happy you came into my life. 

All the comments I got yesterday on my blog Clearing Energy Blockages also helped me with this big decision.  One of my readers/followers, Christina at Lazy Bones Running sent me an e-mail today as a follow up conversation that made me realize the importance of making a decision, going with it and embracing the NOW for what it is.  There are always different decisions to make in the future. 

 What hit the nail all the way in my "teaching next year coffin"  was actually a blog I read tonight by SUAR or Shut Up And Run.  It was just a simple posting of a sticker she had made with her blog name on it.  She is giving it away to the first 150 people who mail her their address.  Of course she will get more than 150 people who want a sticker with her blog name on it.  A sticker to remind them of what Beth at SUAR stands for.  A sticker that reminds them of whatever it is that her honest writing means to them.  To me, I want this sticker to remind me to embrace myself for who I am and not worry about what others think.  This post made me realize the power of JUST. BEING. REAL.  I am no longer going to go through life wondering if I made a fool out of myself with my lack of verbal filter or for saying just what I think.  I'm no longer going to fret about those people that are critical of my outside-the-box personality because it makes them feel uncomfortable.  Those people shouldn't matter.  I'm ready to stop putting LIMITS on my life.  That is what SUAR's blog reminds me of. 

Shel Silverstein says it best :

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”


Anything is possible.  Just because I am deciding to give give up my teaching job and stay at home doesn't mean I'm going to stop making ambitious goals for my life and career.  It doesn't meant that my life just turns into craft time, cheerios, and running kids around.  It just means I'm starting a new chapter in my life!  I feel SO free with this decision.  I feel so happy to have made up my mind and I'm excited to continue to give my ALL to what I do.  I'm ready to be the Mom, the Writer, and the Runner.  Here's to the next chapter in my life! 

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful support and encouragement you have given me.  On all levels...Running, Motherhood, Life. 


Amanda

Monday, November 15, 2010

Clearing Energy Blockages

The past few days have been one huge energy block for me.  I've felt unmotivated, emotional, uninspired, tired, irritable and my mind has been a mess of thoughts that I can't sort out.  Every time I've sat down to write and express my feelings, the words just get stuck or come out jumbled and lacking cohesiveness.  It isn't that I have not wanted to write or express myself creatively.  I have been desperate for a  creative release and energy boost but I've felt blocked in every way. A creative constipation, writer's block, hitting a wall...whatever you want to call it.  The energy has just not been flowing.  Instead it has been all tangled up in a massive energy knot. When we experience energy blocks like this in our life, it affects everything around and within us and it is important to find ways to get the energy flowing again so we can be our best selves, experience joyful living, and radiate positive energy to others.

Last night I sat down to write.  I wrote and wrote for hours but nothing was flowing.  I labored over every sentence and every thought was jumping off into a new direction.  I had too many thoughts but no direction or inspiration. I finally went to bed and woke up this morning determined to release some creative energy and get myself unblocked!  I was determined to recapture my creative mojo, my words for expressing my thinking, and my physical energy for running.  I tried many things and I'm starting to feel like my passionate self again! Here are just some of the things I do to clear my energy blockages:

Running/Exercise 
Running of course!  There isn't a better way I know to get my energy flowing.  Running is usually the answer to renewing my energy and breaking through emotional and creative blocks.  Last week was an awesome week for running considering that I'm coming back from an injury.  I logged about 20 miles and even got some strength training fit in the mix.  Unfortunately, this energy tangle that I've been stuck in wasn't being solved by just running alone.   Everything else I did today gave me the jump start I needed and then after I dropped my daughter off at school, I went running again and this time the energy floodgates just flew open!  It was an amazing feeling...like a feast after a famine.  I had so many words and ideas flowing that I stopped several people to ask if they had a pen, crayon, pencil or anything that I could have to write with.  I finally found a couple of men in a carpet delivery van that generously gave me their pen.  They jokingly asked me how much money I had but the truth is, I would have given them all the money on me if I had had any.  I couldn't wait to start writing down my thinking and take advantage of the end to this creative drought I've been experiencing.  All I had was a receipt and a random square of paper to write on but that didn't stop me. It didn't matter that I was just scribbling out chicken scratch...they were MY ideas and they were flowing and I understood the flow.  Thank you God for Running! 

Yoga, Prayer, and Meditation 
Creating space and time to slow down and be still with my thoughts, breathing and body are one of the best ways to help me tap into my energy flow.  Yoga used to be something I never understood.  After having my third child, I started going to yoga classes and realized that it is such a wonderful way to go within myself and meditate on peace, joy, and gratitude.  As with running, yoga is a good time for me to pray and connect with God.  I don't go to many yoga classes these days but sometimes just laying my yoga mat on my living room floor and doing a couple of poses in the midst of kid chaos can be a great way to recharge my energy. 

Music 
This morning I turned on some Nora Jones and Jack Johnson and let it fill my house while I went about finding other ways to start my energy flow.  Music isn't always helpful when my mind is feeling cluttered but today it was perfect!

Throwing Out Things I Don't Need
It felt liberating to take a trash bag around the house today and just start throwing away random clutter.  This was such a physical way of clearing out space for energy.  I found so many random toys, art supplies, things collecting dust and old stale energy.  By physically going through the motions of clearing out my life, I was able to clear our my mind too!

Journal
Writing in my journal is always a safe place to be when I'm feeling stuck.  It is a place for me to be with myself to work through things.  Today I went through it and reread old prayers, lists of gratitude, ideas, etc. 





Writing To My Children
In addition to my personal journal, I've also always had a journal or special book for each of my kids.  I started writing to each of them when I found out I was pregnant and I continue to fill these books with letters and short notes to them, special pictures, letters from teachers, funny things they say and do, etc.  I also have their Grandparents, Dad and other special people write letters to them.  Taking time for these special books always makes me feel happy. 






This was a note to my baby boy from his Nana after he ripped up my to-do list and I lost my mind.  My mom thought it would be funny to also include the ripped up list. 




Thumbing Through Books
One of my favorite things to do is go to the bookstore, get a coffee and just get lost in all the books and magazines.  This has always been a release for me but unfortunately, since having kids, I don't get to do this nearly enough.  Today I took all the books I'm trying to read, and even some old books that have just been sitting on my shelf and I found myself getting energy from them merely by looking through them and reading one or two sentences from each one.  Even reading the titles and feeling them in my hands made me feel a new flow to my energy level!  I did the same with some of my professional books that remind me about things I'm passionate about. 




Getting These Delivered
Recently, my Grandfather passed away.  Since my dad died when I was a kid, my Grandparents always took my brothers and I under their wing and did things for us that my dad (their son) couldn't do.  After, my grandfather's death, my Aunts and Uncles spent time sorting through all of their things and asking everyone what we wanted.  I had never bothered buying china and never really had any desire to have any until I was asked if I wanted my Grandmother's.   These dishes hold a huge sentimental weight and I am honored to be able have them! 





Opening this rocking horse just blew the emotional energy block right out of the water and it all came out.  This was my dad's rocking horse when he was a baby/toddler.  When my second child was just about 18 months, we took the girls to see my Grandfather.  He was so excited to see the girls rock on this rocking horse.  It meant a lot to him and he had held onto it all these years.  I'm sure it was a part of his son that he was holding onto and I knew it meant a great deal to him.  When my Aunt asked me if I wanted it, I couldn't even imagine not having it as a family keepsake.  I cried when I opened it but was even more touching was seeing my 16 month old son get on it for the first time.  It is almost as if he knew it was special and he needed to be gentle.  It felt like my dad was there for a visit too. 






Writing this blog was the last thing I needed to feel a full level of energy!  I feel like myself again...alive, passionate and joyful. 

There are so many ways to get your energy flowing when you are feeling "stuck".  Here is a site that I enjoyed reading as I was writing today.  It was also a site that helped me think of the words for my title : yourjoyouslife.com.  

What do you do to clear your energy blockages?  How do you get yourself unstuck and get energy flowing again? 

Happy to be back,

Amanda