Monday, June 30, 2014

Stop Waiting on Perfect and Just Do It


What if we just take the first step,
and keep walking forward?
What if we LEAP with both feet,
arms out,
falling freely,
while TRUSTING FULLY?
What if we stop waiting on Perfection, 
and DARED to start with...
"It's Good Enough!"

It's crazy how one can go from feeling brazen and ballsy and ready to take on some new idea one minute and then, in almost the same breath of a thought, have a head full of every possible critic or naysaying message of why something won't work, why someone out there is already doing it better than us,  or why our idea is stupid.  I'm certain this is part of the creative process for many. No doubts that everyone that ever gave birth to an idea or a dream has been faced with these road blocking fears and doubts in some form.  However, the biggest thing that separates those that just make things happen and those that don't, is action, patience, and finding ways to get better and better at telling the critic and coward voice to SHUT UP so we can move forward. And I'm pretty sure that once we get to the other side, we almost always look back and wonder why things seemed so hard in the first place.  Reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert's words this weekend when she said "Your labor is your contribution to the miracle." The miracle is already there for us.  It's up to us to receive it and give it life.

What is an idea, goal or dream that you are sitting on?  What's something you're waiting for the right time or the right amount of perfection (it will never happen) before you put out for the world?  What would happen if we all just took one bold step forward today in making these things come to life?  Just open a door.  Put it out there.  Stop waiting for perfection or a time when we aren't scared or full of doubt.  What would happen if we all just said "Yes, I am enough" and just put it out there?  You never know...


Amanda


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Intentions and Personal Reflections

Summer break + no marathon training + lots of open time with kids = creative fun with our fitness.  This was a mix of yoga, stretching, gymnastics, killing time before real gymnastics, and running (around the room like crazy) all rolled into one.  Love our local YMCA.  

Summer is officially here.  I'm actually enjoying my lazier mornings where the kids sleep later and I have quite moments to drink coffee around the time they were usually catching the bus.  With summer comes lots of activity, mess making, sibling spats, finding fun things to drive to, saying NO to screen time about a bazillion times a day (um, if you asked me 5 minutes ago and the answer was no, chances are very likely that you won't be getting a yes now), walking to the library, staying up way too late, hoping to find time to myself to save my sanity, etc. This summer is a little different since we will be moving back to the west coast in just about 4 weeks.  As much as I'm trying to soak up these last weeks, I can't help but think lots about the "what's next" in life.  It's hard for me to be still.  It's a challenge to soak up the present moments without always having to have a goal, something to learn, or a plan in the works (career, school, races, involvement with community...).  I'm conscious of this and strongly reminding myself to soak up the time I have with my kids in a place I love so much.  There is much to be excited about and much to look forward to once we move to Bend, Oregon but those things can wait.  I know we will find great schools for the kids and a place in the community quick enough.  I'll decide on next steps in my career when the time is right.  And I'll make our new house our HOME.  That alone will be so much fun and engaging.  In the meantime, I just finished with Grandma's Marathon (will post on that soon...so many GREAT things to say about this race!) and I have until July 20th before we road trip to Oregon to make the MOST of this time in Asheville, North Carolina!  Bring it!

Summer means lots of messes but also lots of fun learning and experimenting.  


Intentions:

  • Practice daily gratitude lists again.  I'm always grateful but something about writing just a few things down each day that helps me be that much more intentional and positive with my thinking.  
  • Work on patience.  With myself, goals, plans for what's next, and as a parent. 
  • See the value and reward in Motherhood.  Lately, I find myself craving intellectual stimulation, new career possibilities, furthering my graduate studies, and the opportunity to seek out so many of my passions.  This is great in itself but I tend to undervalue my job as a mother sometimes.  There are days when I don't see it as valuable work but in reality, it truly is.  It is passionate work.  A masterpiece if I see it that way.  Putting my career on hold and staying home with my kids is something I chose to do (not everyone's choice or ability and that's ok) and something I intended to do long before I had kids.  It's easy for me to forget that I will still have time for my interests and work when I'm ready.  Authors, artists, scholars, people who are leaders in their fields of studies and contributing in such lasting and BIG ways (changing the world in positive ways, making the world a better place, etc.)...this seems so WOW to me.  I want to to do that too!  But as mothers, we ARE doing that.  Even if we find ourselves thinking that we are "JUST Mothers"... it's so much more than staying home in our pajamas, thinking we'll never again not wear a hat over our greasy hair, playing UNO and pretending to enjoy Lego Ninjago and battling with play swords. I suppose it is one huge balance of contentment, challenge, motivation, passion, contribution, connecting, feeling heard and seen, etc.  For now, I'm home with my kids and continuing to grow and learn. That works for our family.  I feed my passions and think of what I'll do in the near future but if I really settle myself down and be still, I'm very thankful for this time to be where I am.   
  • Be open to receiving.  Be open to possibility, change, and embracing the next chapter in life.  
  • Instead of being sad to leave North Carolina, be thankful for the time I have had here and recognize how that has added to our lives in positive ways.  
  • Be a model for my children.  Easier said than done.  If I want them to respond to each other with patience and love, I need to do the same.  If I want them to value learning and be true to their passions and interests, it helps if they see us doing the same.  So much here!  

A few personal thoughts that I've jotted down over the last few days when I am alone with my thoughts in the stillness of the morning:

  • We find our family. Family can come to us in ways we never imagined.  
  • We won't like every person in life.  In fact, there will be people that no matter how hard we try, will still never be someone we like or enjoy being around for longer than a few minutes.  That's okay.  Not everyone will like us either.  
  • Living small is a mindset.  Small living doesn't mean never taking big and bold steps and making dreams come true.  What I mean by living small is in relation to material possessions...I don't need to fill our lives with "stuff"...all the latest and most popular clothes, toys, cars, etc. to be happy.  In fact, these things clutter life up for some of us.  I've struggled with this new step in life where we move from 1200 sq ft of space to well over over double that.  Doesn't a big house just mean more "stuff" and being tied down to our home?  It doesn't have to.  As with anything in life, it is what we make it.  Who cares if our home is half empty for the next few years.  I'm not going to just go on a frenzy of filling it up with "stuff" just to have it even if it doesn't mean much.  Nope.  Let it be empty in a few rooms.  We can still live small in a big house.  And with living small, our living in other ways will be BIG! Besides, an empty room or two can mean some awesome fort building space for the kids!  
  • Training for a race or even simply running and taking care of our health and fitness carries over into our life in wonderful ways.  There have been so many times recently where I've found myself pushing through a difficult workout, facing my fears or nerves and doing something I was dreading (only to feel amazing afterwards), or thinking of something difficult in my life and how I'll move past it when I'm doing just that on the track or the road.  The mantras I tell myself when I'm running, racing, and pushing through a challenge (mental or physical) in training are the mantras that also help me continue being strong and making my dreams come true in daily life. I have much to say about this when I write about my recent marathon!  Really powerful thoughts in that race.  
  • When I'm being especially negative or critical about situations that come up in daily life, it's time to take a long hard look at myself.  We often project onto others things about ourselves that we dislike the most.  And when our kids are around all the time, they HEAR.  Trust me, they hear us.  Even when we don't speak.  If we are being especially critical, they pick up on that and before you know it, they are walking, talking, miniature versions of the parts of us we like least (along with the good stuff).  Nothing reflects our weaknesses quite like our offspring.
  • Boredom is good for kids sometimes.  Boredom and downtime to just...PLAY.  This is one of the biggest reasons why I'm looking forward to that backyard and bonus room...places to tell my kids to scram and make some imaginative messes! Let them figure things out on their own, solve their own fights, etc. I want to be a more hands OFF mom but that can be hard for me when I'm in such a small space with them.  Without me being so uptight about the noise and the messes, things will be so much nicer for all of us.  Imagination and creativity can be loud and messy sometimes.  Yay for yards, summer, trampolines, rooms to make forts, and having my own space so I don't have to be a part of it all the time.  After all, I lived my childhood and it isn't my job to make their life gloriously magically entertaining all the time.  Kids need some stretches of being unstimulated so they can create their own fun (all within boundaries of course...ha!).
  • Change is constant.  No need to judge ourselves for being a different person than we once were.  Even if there is a drastic difference in our life  compared to who we once were.  It's okay to be different.  It's okay to evolve.  That's one of the most beautiful things about life.  We change.  The world changes. Life changes.  Our friends and family change.  That's a good thing.  Embrace it.  It can cause a bit (or a lot) of stress if we let it...when we see ourselves doing and saying things that we would have flipped over in the past.  It's easy to dig our heels in and try to stay the same because it is comfortable and what we know.  We can find ourselves pulled to close our minds and continue to stick to the same ideas, places, routines and paths even if we feel pulled or led in different directions, but that's how we get dusty and rusty.  Change lets us grow and if we are open to it when it comes, life will continue to surprise us in wonderful ways.

Time to get things ready for my son's five year old birthday celebration with family tonight.  Again, much to say about Grandma's Marathon soon.  Really, much to say about lots right now.  My head and heart are full full full.  Full of ideas, inspiration, words, love, and possibility.  Thankful for that. Life is good!


Amanda



Monday, June 16, 2014

Top 10 Reasons Why Grandma's Marathon Sounds Awesome!



I finally sat down tonight to do a little reading on Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN.  After all, the marathon is this Saturday so I figure it might be helpful to know a bit more about the race before race day.  Life has been a little busy lately so marathon training has taken a back seat.  However, after reading about Grandma's, I'm more excited than ever to be running this weekend!  I might not be in condition to run my fastest time but WOW, this sounds like a marathon to have on your must-run marathon list!  This will be my 10th marathon and I can honestly say that out of all the marathons I've run, this one seems to get some of the best reviews.  I've read quite a bit about Grandma's Marathon tonight and almost every review was incredibly positive.  Two Thumbs Up.  Top Notch.  In fact, several of the reviewers that posted compared Grandma's to Boston, New York, Chicago and some of the other marathons that go down as the best in our country.

From my research, here are some of the top reasons to run Grandma's Marathon (I'm sure I'll have plenty to add once I get to run it myself!):


  1. ORGANIZATION.  Almost every review I read had something to say about how amazing the organization is in this race.  From aid stations to timing to transportation to emails, this race sounds flawless when it comes to being well organized!
  2. Volunteers/Spectators.  It sounds like there is a huge amount of support before, during and after the race.  Reviewers raved about the volunteers and spectators.  As so many of us know, the volunteers really do help to make an event great.  Big time! 
  3. Pace Group Leaders.  Many people had such positive words to say about the pace group leaders they ran with.  In fact, this year might be the first year I ever try running with a pace group because of all the positive things I read.  Now, choosing the pace group I'd best fit in might take some thought since I'm not sure where I'm at with marathon fitness right now.  
  4. Great Course.  Gentle hills.  Mostly flat.  And Scenic views of Lake Superior.  Sounds like a good PR course.  
  5. Great City!  Duluth sounds like a charming city with a BIG HEART! And a city that loves their marathon.  The people sound welcoming and friendly, plenty of fun places to eat at, and college dormitories available to stay in as an alternative to hotels that either fill up quickly or a little overpriced for marathon weekend.  The reviews had great things to stay about the dorms.
  6. Depth of Field.  There are runners from all over that are in Duluth to race different distances this weekend.  From professionals to first timers...this marathon is the real deal! 
  7. Time of Year.  Running Grandma's means you get to run an early summer marathon with only part of your training in winter.  You still get to enjoy plenty of the hot summer months recovering and enjoying a slower pace and you are able to enjoy many training runs in spring time rather the the depth of winter training that comes with early spring marathons.  
  8. Finisher Shirts and Medals sound nice.  
  9. Events around the race:  spaghetti feed, concert, speakers....I'm excited about all of this!  
  10. MINNESOTA.  Let's face it, we've heard the stories about what these Minnesota locals have to endure during winter.  Long, cold (understatement), brutal winters.  My bets are that they know how to put on a June race with plenty of celebration, Joy, and post race festivities that make the most of summer weather.  They take their summers seriously!  I'm looking forward to celebrating in Minnesota! 

Have you run Grandma's Marathon?  What are your thoughts about the race?  


Amanda



Friday, June 13, 2014

Bring on Summer Break! And Gratitude and Intentions

Once my kids stopped fighting over who was going to be teacher in a game of school, they actually did some pretty cool stuff!  This collage was done after a nature walk around the yard.  Nice job kids!  


So far, the first morning out of school for summer break has been fighting over who gets to be the teacher when they play school.  Of course, my two alpha children are butting heads as usual.  My five year old insists that he should be the teacher while my oldest at nine is easily outraged and insistent on proving all the things she knows that he doesn't.  This is her way of revealing that the idea of him teaching is ludicrous in her mind.  Meanwhile, my middle daughter ignores them both with her nose in a bird book and probably inventing a cure for cancer without any of us noticing. I finally explain to my oldest that she has to teach in a way that is fun and developmentally appropriate for her little brother instead of making him feel like a complete idiot for not being able to perform long division as a preschooler and permanently damage his self esteem. This was just the first hour of summer vacation.  Things are calm again as they are all engaged and happy but I'm certainly thankful for sports classes, a YMCA, swimming pools and play dates with friends to keep us all sane.

In all seriousness, I'm actually pretty excited about summer.  I've craved this time with my kids where we don't always have to be somewhere and be rushing from one thing to the next: gymnastics, soccer, school, after school clubs, etc. etc.  I'm excited to soak up the next month living in this small town outside of Asheville.  This next months will be filled with:

  • walks to the library and bakery
  • walks to the Nature Park up the street where we will explore, play in the creek, and make nature an imaginative world while mom sits agains a tree and soaks it all in or reads a book.  
  • trips to the Biltmore House
  • nights of watching the sun go down and playing tag with the fireflies (can't find fireflies in Oregon)
  • mornings on the front porch with the birds 
  • gymnastics classes
  • movie nights
Lots of memories yet to make.  I'm sure the next month of summer will also involve:
  • plenty of sibling fights
  • mom losing her mind
  • the house in complete disaster...kid forts, toys, spilled messes, the start to moving across the country
  • kids asking for more and more screen time and insisting that I'm the meanest mom ever because I won't let them sit in front of the t.v all day and fill their bodies with crap food, etc.  Nah, they don't complain too much but I'm sure we will will have plenty of the crazy stuff that comes with unstructured summer time.  That's life.  
  • feeling like pulling my hair out as we get ready to move our family of 5 back to Oregon
So, bring on Summer Break!  I've already noticed that I'm wanting my blog as an outlet a bit more as we transition into this next phase.  What a gift this blog has been the last few years! Writing really is an outlet for me.  Even if nobody reads my blog but me...my posts are for me!  They help me find my truth, process my thoughts, make my goals and intentions come to life a bit more, tell my story, and connect with my world.  Something so therapeutic for me about putting my thoughts and heart into words.  A meditation of sorts.  Similar to running.  

Speaking of running...

I'm running another marathon next week.  What?!  How did this happen that I thought another marathon right now would be a great idea?  Well, after Boston, I was filled with some of the usual feelings that come to me post marathon. Feelings of wanting redemption and running a faster time.  Wanting to build off of all the work I put into training by running another race.  Still being caught up in post marathon euphoria and feeling like I could have done better.  So, I did what any sane marathon runner would do...or what seems to be my pattern over the last few years...I signed up for another marathon just 7 weeks out from the last.  

Let's just say, my focus is not on that personal best that I was craving when Boston was over.  With moving, my husband changing jobs, finding and buying a house in Bend, and all that comes with these big changes, marathon training hasn't been at the top of my priority list.  However, I am very excited to run Grandma's Marathon!  I've heard so many good things about this race and about Duluth, MN.  Plus, one of my favorite girlfriends is driving down from her small town in Minnesota to spend the weekend with me.  I think things are actually working out for the best since this is a pressure free race for me, I'm still in very decent running shape, and I will have 3 nights of girlfriend time with someone I crave time with and don't see enough!  Oh yeah, and since the hotels in Duluth were all booked, we are actually staying in a college dormitory.  We're excited about this!  It will be like we get to be college roommates for a few nights.  Besides not having a bathroom in my room, I'm all for it and I think it will be an awesome memory.  Bring it!  

Gratitude:
  • Summer with my kids.  Time goes so fast and I'm excited to have this time with them.
  • We signed on a house in Bend.
  • Moving to Bend, Oregon
  • I get to spend another month in my Blue Ridge Mountain town that I love so so much.  I can focus on the time I have had or how much my heart hurts to leave and I'm choosing to focus on the gift it has been to have had this year.  A piece of me will always be here and a piece of here will always be in my heart.  
  • Resources for parents.  There are so many things out there for parents and kids:  library, reading programs, pools, fountains, hiking trails, story time, etc. etc.  Just as I tell my kids that they have no reason to be bored, parents have no lack of choices to do with their kids! 
  • My kids finally all found their happy place this morning.  My oldest took my youngest for nature walks, taught him in a way he is ready to learn, and they even made a nature collage.  All while my middle child sat next to me building rainbow loom creations. 
  • I get to run Grandma's marathon next week and see a very dear friend who is like a sister.
  • Several pieces of writing that I've been working on over the last few years and they seem to be taking shape.  I may never do anything with them but just writing them has been a rewarding process.
Intentions:
  • Find one-on-one time with each of my kids today.  Even if it is for only 10 minutes and just sitting on a swing or reading a story...this time matters. 
  • Try something new in this area before we leave: a restaurant, new hiking trail, concert, etc. 
  • Replace every negative thought that stems from fear  with something positive that comes from love.  Sending messages of what I want and what I know can be mine for life.  I watched Jim Carrey's commencement speech the other night and it was such a good message.  Nothing new but definitely good reminders!   
  • Yesterday's thoughts: Intent on slowing down today (and tomorrow...) and tasting life, noticing something or someone new, making eye contact, really talking to someone I might never say hello to and hearing their story, and giving myself with love. "...the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don't miss it. To use it all up is love." --Leo Buscaglia

1.  What are some of your intentions and things you're thankful for as summer kicks off? 
2.  Have you watched Jim Carrey's commencement speech that everyone is sharing?  Thoughts? It was a message put in a form that was simple and made so much sense.  My favorite part of it was when he mentioned opening the door for what we want in our head, then waiting for that door to come in real life as it is supposed to, and then walking right through it...receiving! 
3.  Do your kids fight?  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Fear: Scram! And Hello to New House and Chapters in Life!

What's up with fear? It's such a sneaky little bugger.  It creeps in and tries to hold us back from so damn much:  starting and following through with our biggest dreams, accepting and flowing with change, trying new things, receiving things we never thought we'd have.  Fear is sly.  Tricky. It disguises itself as rational or safe.  Fear settles.  It keeps us where we are, convinces us we are comfortable and that things are "good enough." It distracts us and says
"You Can't."
"Who do you think you are?"
"Why bother?"
"Think of all the things that could go wrong...aren't you comfortable just the way you are?"
 It seems that when fear creeps in my life, it always takes me at least a little while of feeling paralyzed by it before I realize what's going on enough to ignore it so I'm not held back in my same old life grooves, never to move forward.

6-10-14
Dear Fear,
I've recognized you these last few weeks.  I've even let you to stay awhile.  I've been hospitable and let you take part in our daily activities.  However, I'm ready for you to go.  I want to be present and joyful about this next chapter in life. In fact, I really wish you would stay away for good now.  You seem to make everything else in life seem so much harder.  Impossible even.  There's no place for you in my life if I'm ever going to live the life I know I'm meant to live.  No place at all.  So, I send you on  your way and I hope to find many other things to fill your void: gratitude, goals, love, people and things that inspire, and friends that support, encourage and believe in me.    
Signed,
Me

We signed on a house last night!  In Bend, Oregon.  Yup, things are getting real now.  Since we are currently living on the east side of the country, my husband and I had to fly out separately to look at houses and get a feel for our new home.  Him first.  Then me.  Oh wow, what a process!  I never thought finding a house that I'd spend the next many years of my life in would be so difficult.  Not just because the market in Bend is crazy right now but because somehow, in this process of selecting a home for my family, I've let it define me. I've had to really wrestle with some old ideas of who I am and what I've always imagined for my life and I've had to come to terms with the ever present truth that CHANGE is INEVITABLE. Change is constant.  It can't be avoided.  With life.  With US.  Our beliefs. The way we see the world.  Our children.  The places we end up.  Our jobs.  Change is what life is.  We change.  The things and people around us change.  We can either flow with it, accept it and eventually embrace it or we can fight it tooth and nail and let fear tell us to resist.

I'm ready to accept and embrace.

I'm ready to accept that sometimes what is best for us isn't what we expected. Sometimes, like with the purchase of our new house and moving to Bend, it is MORE than we expected.  It is pretty neat to see how life unfolds just as it is meant to be.  The house we signed on is really like no house I ever saw myself settling in for the bigger stretch of raising my kids.  On paper it fits more than most of the criteria we wrote down on our wish list for a home but in my mind and from looking at it all from the outside, it has taken some readjusting and shift in perspective to get used to the idea. We made a wish list to work with before our home search so working with our realtors would be easier.  On our list was (not in order): a bigger yard, space for the kids to play, a room for each kid and room to have family and friends visit, community, good schools, a house that would be good for entertaining and be the house our kids and their friends would want to hang out at, closeness to running trails, lots of natural light, TREES, and a few other dream things that I knew weren't going to be a for sure thing like charm, front porch, etc.  I've struggled so much with this decision but this is the house we kept coming back to for what fits our family the best even though it took me some time to see it as the house that we would ultimately decide on.

 I'm ready to be happy and stop second guessing it.

Before making an offer, I took a short run along the river trail that is steps from the house.  I tried to soak it all in the best I could. I tried to be calm and not let fear stop me in my tracks.  I'm so thankful for the friends I have in my life that have helped me process these big changes.  One dear friend and old neighbor in Portland was there on that still morning in such a perfect way.  She spoke words that were just what I needed to hear:

"Sometimes over thinking makes it too hard.  If you really think this is your first choice then you should go for it.  If your gut say otherwise, listen to it.  But if fears says otherwise, tell it to off and move forward.  If you let fear make the decisions in the past, you wouldn't have had your wonderful time in North Carolina."


Our house (as soon as closing goes through...that's a waiting process in itself) is bigger than I ever wanted.  It has more space and rooms that we need but not too much that we won't use it.  It is steps away from the river trail system along the Deschutes River where we can run for miles and miles on dirt trail and never have to get in our car.  Although I never saw myself as wanting a community pool or fitness area that comes with a HOA, I'm embracing that too because I know my kids will love it.  There is no old charm, front porch, or deck with a view.  No small town feel like where we live now unless you count walking .7 miles to the neighborhood store/coffee shop but we will be 4 miles from downtown Bend, a city of under 80,000 and just under 3 miles to the popular Old Mill area.  There is really  no real suburbia in Bend...more neighborhoods but definitely more of a suburb feel with where we will live.  But hey, that's a good place for families and eventually we will be at a place in life where living in an old charmer in the heart of a small city or town will make more sense (financially, space, resources, etc.) and serve our needs.  It seems that all the things we wanted for our home and family are coming to be even if it has taken a different form than I imagined.  Some of the best things in my life have happened this way! This is one of the things I love the most about life and we almost always gain wisdom and new insight in the process of shifting and accepting.

We have about a month left here in Asheville, North Carolina. I'm excited!  Today, I'm bagging up my fear and second guessing and I'm setting my sights on the present and the many wonderful things to look forward to!  I'm receiving and giving thanks.

Video of my first trail run near our new house (literally a minute away):

video


My morning run before making an offer on our new home wasn't much of a run but it did give me a chance to soak things up a bit.  


Intentions for My Now:  

  • Be present and soak up these last weeks in a place I love so so much.  
  • Accept change and find the good in it without resistance.
  • Give thanks for life and this new house, place to live, last year of travel....everything.  Life is good.  So much to be thankful for.
  • Be open for new opportunities.  
  • Breathe.
  • Gear up for Grandma's Marathon in 2 weeks and allow myself to be where I am.  The past few weeks have been much harder than I expected when it comes to training for a marathon.  I'm not sure what I was thinking.  Ha! But I'm going to make the most of it and enjoy my time in Duluth with one of my best friends at an awesome marathon.  
  • Think positive and expect the best!!  
  • Continue dreaming and believing.  
  • Give my son an awesome Ninjago party tomorrow! 



Amanda