Friday, November 30, 2012

Things I'm Loving NOW

There is so much to love in Life when we are intentional with how we think and look at things.  So many good things to find when we slow down enough to notice the little moments, like our kids walking out the front door with their oversized backpacks and mismatched socks while  holding hands.  Or my feet next to my daughter's on our walk home from kindergarten. Not sure why it is so hard to get back to this way of thinking and seeing the world once we fall into funks and fog.  But once we do find our way back, it is worth trying to hold on to.  And so far, RUNNING AGAIN has helped me not only hold on to the good thinking but continue to look ahead to more of the good things to come.  

The more we focus on the Good stuff, the more it comes.
This morning brought with it another morning of efficiency and positive energy.  I think I'm on a roll here. Yippie! Let's see if I can keep it going.  After seeing how yesterday worked out so well, I was determined to start the day off right by getting up early enough to have ALONE time where it is just me and whatever I want to be doing.  This time usually means enjoying my coffee and focusing on the day with goals, writing an e-mail to a good friend or just sitting in silence. Starting the day with a piece to myself definitely centers me and allows me to be present and intentional with my kids when they wake up.  It is so obvious that my attitude is what drives everyone else. Unlike the recent weeks in my life where my GRUMPY/IN A FUNK meter has been set on permanent HIGH, yesterday I was full of smiles, positive energy, and uplifting/encouraging words for my kids.  I caught them making good choices and I chose to let things go that would otherwise drive me up a wall.  Instead of nagging at them about every single thing under the sun as I have been doing the past few months, I chose to relax and ENJOY them.  It was amazing how just by being more conscious and intentional with myself, how everyone else came together to do the same.  It carried over to the evening and all the way to bed.  My husband made a comment to me about it being one of the first nights in a long time when the kids weren't fighting with each other or whining for some kind of attention or over something that wasn't right.

So now, as I sit here in my dried up sweaty workout clothes at a table covered in paint, rice that was  used for a craft last night and crumbs from this morning's breakfast, I'm choosing to ignore all the things that I could be doing and take some time just for me before my designated "quiet time" is over. All this morning as I was getting kids off to school and going about my normal routines, I kept thinking about all the things I'm loving about today, this weekend coming up, and just life in general...the right now.  In the Present Moments.  So in a list and with pictures, here are a few that pop into my head:

  • My running.  Today, yesterday, this week!  It just seems to be going so smoothly.  I can feel myself building fitness quickly.  And it is amazing to me how quickly my body has responded to just easy running.  Oh, and I'm back to fitting in my jeans normally again...without the button and zipper threatening to pop off.  
  • YOGA today!  I had a friend who watched my daughter for a bit so that I could take the 10:00 yoga class after my run at the gym this morning.  
  • That my son asks me to take him to the gym child care.  I haven't been to the gym forever but we drove by the other day and my son begged and begged to go to "his gym".  That's where I got the idea to try a yoga class.  
  • A three hour date with my husband tonight with NO KIDS.  I suppose that is typically what a date kids...but lately that hasn't happened as much as I'd like.  This time together is so important for us.  
  • Story time with my kids after lunch today. This book, It's Christmas, David! is one of our FAVORITES to read.  David Shannon is great and his character David reminds me of my son.  A fun book to read in addition to his other David books.  Today, I stopped at each page for my kinder to read the words but my 3 year old has heard it so many times that he beat her to it and "read" it word for word from his memory.  
  • Ruby Holler is the current book that I'm reading for read aloud to my daughters at night.  They are loving it and I'm enjoying reading it again.  It is a book I used to read with my students in guided reading groups or literature circles.  Good story.  And I'm loving that it is an easy enough reading level to where my 2nd grader can use it for independent reading by reading over some of the chapters that we've already read together.  Sometimes she is even so eager to find out what happens next that she reads ahead a bit.  It is still a little high of a reading level to be a true independent reading fit for her but since she hears me model the way Sharon Creech writes, it is easier for her.  
  • Rice!  I guess I always knew it was always a great thing to have in sensory tables for preschools. I used it with my preschool students long long ago but I'm not sure why it took me this long to use it with my own kids.  Who cares about the mess when it buys me at least an hour at a time of having and engaged son!  And what a mess it made but for the most part, it was easy to sweep up.  It would have been much easier of a clean up if my son didn't decide that when he was finally done, he would pretend to use it as snow and try skiing in it.  Good grief, he got rice everywhere!  But now I know to limit the time I leave it out so that by the time his attention span has veered off to other things, I will have the rice out of arms reach.  Who needs expensive Christmas toys under the tree when you can just go buy some grains and legumes and wrap them up??!  
  • A girl trip.  Next week I get to fly to Minneapolis, MN to see one of my best friends.  Just a short trip to do whatever we want for a couple, laugh, watch movies in our pajamas, drink wine, go on a 12-15 mile run together, and just enjoy being together face to face instead of just e-mail.  SOUL FOOD.  
  • Christmas Rocks.  We tried our first night of these Christmas/Advent Rocks last night at the dinner table and it was awesome!  Such a great family activity and I hope we can continue it all through December.  
  • Concert with my husband this weekend!  For my birthday, my husband bought me tickets to see The Lumineers and this weekend is the time to celebrate.  On that note, even though I have lots of other things I'm loving right now,  I'll leave you with a video of one of the most popular song by this group. 

Happy Friday!

1.  What are some things YOU are loving lately?  
2.  Random question but I've received a few e-mails from blog readers saying that they can't comment on my blog....wondering what's up with this.  If you are a person who has tried to comment but can't, can you please send me a quick e-mail to let me know.. not sure if this is something with the blogger site or what.  Thanks a ton!  


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Advent Rocks, Bits of Running, and Meaningful Advent Activities With Kids

I'm not sure this day could be going much better. I haven't felt this much like my best self in what seems like forever and it is so nice to be here again after quite a long stretch of off months. I have marathon training to thank for so much of it. There is something about working towards a goal and having a training plan for something that give me such a sense of satisfaction and drive for the rest of my life. The endorphins and fitness that come along with it are wonderful perks too.  

 After going to bed last night with my hopefully soon-to-be no more friend called Motherhood Guilt that still shows her ugly head from time to time (I know, I know, I'm still working on getting rid of this stupid anxiety and guilt that creeps up after especially crazy and unraveling types of days...getting better actually and it has helped to be reading and listening to more and more of this awesome lady, Brene Brown), I woke up early enough to have some alone time to get my thoughts straight before I woke the kids up.  And although things were a bit rushed since I waited until 7:30 to wake the girls and get them dressed, fed, hair brushed, lunches made, tooth fairy note written found, shoes on and out the door for school by 7:55, I was EFFICIENT (Gosh, I love efficiency!) and ON MY A GAME!  Feels good.  To make things even better, my more than energetic and demanding bundle of POW WOW three year old slept until almost 8:30 and all I had to do was wake him up, hand him his breakfast, dress him, find his show and tell and get him to school by 9:00.  Things went smoothly, there were no melt-downs and I could see my positive outlook and attitude being absorbed and reflected in full force.  Amazing how when we are on our best behavior as parents and have positive attitudes about our day, our kids seem to respond in much the same way.  They really do mirror us so much of the time.  

Before picking my daughter up from kinder at 10:30, I had time for my 7 mile easy run.  I left the heart rate monitor at home and I just ran.  Happy. Easy. Clear headed and positive. And I felt like I had a new pair of legs or something.   Every time I glanced down at my watch I could see my mile splits in the low 8's and high 7's.  In fact, 5 out of my 7 miles ended up being in the 7:40's and 7:50's and felt like the same effort as my high 8's the other day when I came home feeling heavy and slow.  This has left me with a smile and even more motivation to make the rest of the day a good one.  

Advent/Christmas Focus
One of the things I had a chance to fit in after my run was to get a start on some non-traditional advent activities.  My oldest daughter is now seven and I've yet to do anything with advent.  No advent calendar.  No Christmas countdown.  It always sounds like a good idea but I never get around to it.  But every Christmas I think more and more of how I want Christmas to be for my family.  I want my kids to grow up remembering Christmas a so much more than just getting presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  I want them to think of giving, family memories, and LOVE.  Yes, I want this to be their focus all year round but I've always wanted to find more ways to incorporate some special activities focused on these things.  So, this year I was determined to come up with some sort of advent activities that are about doing things for others and together...focused on giving, love, and family.  

One thing I came up with when brainstorming and hearing about your ideas that some of you shared was the idea of advent rocks.  I know, I really seem to love using rocks for activities and memories with my kids like here and here. Hey, rocks are free and paint is plentiful around here so it works for me.  

My idea for Advent/Christmas rocks:

  • Gather some rocks from the yard
  • Kids paint rocks
  • While kids paint the rocks, we brainstorm a list of character traits or qualities that we strive for:  Love, Joy, Peace, Thankfulness, Patience, Helpful, etc.  
  • Once rocks dry, I write these words on the rocks and put them in a bowl
  • At dinner time we will do a few things with these rocks during the month of December.  One idea is to have each person take a rock without looking and then talk about how they might have demonstrated that quality or maybe an example of where they saw someone else being a good example/reflection of that trait/quality.  
  • I also thought that we could just take one rock out in the morning, then talk about it over breakfast before school and try to make a goal to be conscious of being more _________(loving, kind, caring, helpful, brave, etc.).  
We will see how this goes.  I'm excited to try it out!  Here are some other ideas we have for our advent activities (a lot of them are already things we do anyway):  

  • Visit a nursing home or homeless shelter to volunteer.  I'd like the nursing home visits to be a regular thing.
  • Buy two $10 subway gift cards to give to people who are asking for help on the street corners
  • Buy groceries for a special person we know who could use it.
  • Go to a cello concert as a family (Portland Cello Project).  
  • Write letters to neighbors or special families in our life (spread this out over a few days). I'd like them to focus on writing very heartfelt letters where they give specific things that they are glad for about the person they are writing to.  
  • Bake cookies together.
  • Deliver cookies and letters to special friends
  • Take the school office workers coffee or treats
  • Take the teachers their favorite Starbucks drink
  • Watch a holiday movie as a family and make it special with popcorn, treats, blankets, jammies, etc.
  • Make gingerbread houses
  • Have kids act out the Christmas story
  • Use the double jogger and single jogger to take the kids to see Christmas lights in the neighborhood with hot chocolates
  • Christmas Rocks/Advent Rocks
  • Have our annual cookie decorating party with family
  • Send a letter/gift to the parents of a friend of mine that just died not too long ago.  I'm sure they could use so much comfort right now.  
  • Find someone's porch to sweep or lawn to rake.  
  • Read Christmas stories and then play Charades using only the characters from that book.

 Do you have any special traditions for Christmas or Advent that would be good for putting more focus on loving/giving of ourselves to others and creating more family memories?  

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Mile at a Time!

Gosh, it has been awhile since I just sat down and wrote a blog just for me.  You know, the kind where I just let my thoughts flow, my words come out in whatever way they land on the screen, and my voice come through as a result.  The kind of blog where I. just. write. For. ME. That's why I started this blog in the first place but somewhere over the last couple of months, the desire to write has decreased greatly.  About as much as my stress level has increased.  Ha!  But here I am.  The sun is shining in Portland for the third day in a row, Christmas music is playing, the tree is up, and dare I even whisper it for fear of it all ending right this second, but my two youngest kids are playing quietly without any fighting or asking for snacks or spilling water or whining because something isn't going their way. My three year old is feeling content and in control of his little world this very second so there are not melt downs or power struggles going on. After his most recent hissy fit over not being able to take a piss on the front lawn and being asked to use the toilet, I'm definitely allowing myself some time to just ZONE OUT.  And breathe.  Waste time.  Look at stupid pictures on facebook that make me laugh and really, just try to put everything in perspective.

Perspective is everything. It's the name of the game for me lately and I'm definitely being conscious of putting some things in my world in a perspective that is healthy and realistic. If you're me, you OVERthink everything and DON'T do well with big changes even if you seek it out and crave it all at the same time.  This year has been a big one for me.  One big year of travel, processing, decision making, marathons, new relationships, big races, facing some pretty big emotional issues within myself, cutting ties with some parts of my life that I just didn't have energy for anymore, injury, etc.  Oh, and one minor thing....we decided to just MOVE ACROSS the country.  Just for fun.  An adventure.  A change just for the sake of doing something different and experiencing another part of our country while our kids are still  young. Really?  Yep.  As of now, this move is still planned for March even though my best friends keep checking in with me to see if I've changed my mind yet.  And the closer to March it gets, the more stressed I feel...just uneasy.  A little fearful.  I mean, wow!  Asheville, North Carolina?  So far away.  Don't know anything about the schools or where we will live or how often my husband will be traveling or how we will rent our house or who will rent our house or if we will even find a renter for our house. I'm finding myself worrying about the stupidest things.  But I'm trusting that this opportunity is here for us to take and that good things will come from it all. Things have unfolded so easily so far and it isn't just every day that we will have this kind of possibility to take advantage of...someone moving us, a job for my husband, a chance to travel to places that we've never know, branching out and seeing what life has to offer. Finding what happens if we just LEAP.  And moving to a very beautiful and coveted place at that!  If anything, we will grow from it.  So, take a deep breath and calm down Amanda!  It will all fall into place.  You asked for it so enjoy embracing it.

I guess you can say that this has been one of the best and weirdest years of my life.  And it has kind of left me with that feeling of always trying to catch my breath.  That feeling of not ever really feeling much like myself and eventually wondering if I even know who that is anymore. Ha! You'd think I was back in college trying to find myself again. Good grief.  But what better to have in your life when you're feeling out of control and a little off your game?


This pretty much sums up how I felt after my 6 miles in the pouring rain last Saturday.  So much joy and peace that came from just being out there with my thoughts and my friend Running.

So GLAD FOR RUNNING in my life again.  And I'm content with just that.  Running.  At this point, I don't care if I'm fast or slow or running a gazillion miles a week.  I'm just happy to be running.  I'm happy to be outside breathing in the fresh air and feeling the rain on my face.  I'm happy to be moving my legs and letting my mind unwind with every mile.  I'm happy to be injury free and feeling strong.  And I'm just okay being wherever I am.  Right Now.  Running is such a calm for my life.

With every week of marathon training so far, I've felt myself return to me just a little more than the week before.  I'm still in the first phase of the plan where I'm building a base and that means:

  • a slow and steady increase in miles
  • All EASY running
This week is an easy 50 miles that looks like:  
Mon: Off
Tues:  7 miles easy 6x20 second strides
Wed:  7 miles easy
Thurs: 7 Miles easy 6x20 second strides
Friday: 7 miles easy
Saturday: 7 miles easy 6x20second strides
Sunday: 15 miles

What is easy pace? Trying to keep most of my miles right around 8:15 to 8:30's.  Sometimes they are faster and sometimes they are slower (like today). The big hills in our neighborhood really do a number on the mile splits. And my paces feel slower than last year at this time for sure but I'm not really worried about it right now.  Just focused on keeping my runs, well, EASY.  I need running of any kind much more than I need speed or some lofty goal.  

Just writing this blog has been good for me.  My mind is quieter and clearer.  And, I feel a sense of calm that has come from letting my words flow.  One mile at a time here.  And thankful for every single one of the those miles.  The ones I'm running and the ones I'm living.  Life is beautiful.  


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Running, Motherhood, Life: Goals and Gratitude


Happy Hug a Runner Day!  I couldn't think of a better picture to share for this than the one above.  This is my Post Boston Marathon hug from the love of my life who has been such a strong support to me.  This was the hardest, most emotional race of my life and the feeling of just finishing was one of pride, relief, and victory.  I couldn't ask for a better person's arms to fall into once I was done with it all.  And gosh, this picture gets me charged up for marathon training and gearing up to run the Napa Marathon in March and Boston 2013 in April.  Today I'm feeling so excited to be back in both of these places, returning to the two marathons where I started with marathons.  What a great year 2013 will be! And yay for starting my training for them at the end of 2012...a good/positive way to wrap up 2012 and  soar on into the new year with new dreams and hopes.

Thankful for:

  • The next two weeks of training all written down.   Here's to hoping for HEALTH so I can continue building my base.  
  • My husband home with us today so I can run my 6 miles outside if there is another break in rain.  
  • Feet feeling good.  Having the flu the past day or so was good for my body getting REST.
  • More time running outside and OFF the treadmill.  Very few of my runs have been on the treadmill lately.  Yes, I still plan on doing quite a bit of my training on that I should...I mean it cost quite a pretty penny.
  • To stop the stress eating and overeating.  Eat healthy, good portions, lots of veggies, lean protein, and start fueling know, like I'm marathon training or something.  Ha!
  • To be patient and trust the plan that I'm given.  To let go of some control and trust that I will get to where I am going and I WILL be prepared to run strong and Happy.  
  • LISTEN to my body and mind so that I can give myself what I need...emotionally, mentally, physically.  


Even though today is another sick day for my family, having the kids home from school again has proven to be a blessing in disguise.  I'm so thankful for the unexpected art time that came this morning.  All of us just sitting around the table creating things with old art supplies that I found in my closet.  It has definitely inspired me to get back to this sort of stuff.  They are growing up way too fast!

Thankful for:

  • An opportunity to take my kids to Disneyland and see their excitement, despite most of us being a bit under the weather. 
  • Going with my 5 year old to get her new cast yesterday.  
  • Reading with kids before bed last night.  
  • Seeing my oldest start to grow into such a beautiful and responsible little lady.  She really helped out a lot when we were sick in California.  And just now we had some amazing cuddle time where she read me some of her writing she has been working on.  LOVE.  
  • Seeing my 3 year old son start to feel better after being so so sick.  He's quiet, calm and actually easy to have around...ha!  Amazing what being healthy does for a kid.  
  • To really pour myself into being a mom and ENJOYING it.  To take advantage of this time I have with them that won't be forever.
  • To be in the present moment.  More mom moments without distractions (phone, computer, etc.).  
  • To focus more on the POSITIVES that my kids are doing and less of nagging about the negatives.  


Thankful for:
  • Many chances and opportunities to start fresh and pick ourselves back up again.  Never too late to make our life better.  
  • Loving Family and Friends who don't give up on us when we go through rough patches.
  • Inspiration
  • Sunshine flowing through my window as we speak.  I know it will be gone in just a few minutes and I really should be running right this second before it starts pouring rain and getting dark and gray outside again.  
  • NOT hosting Thanksgiving this year.  
  • Thanksgiving
  • Cello concert with my family coming soon.
  • Knowing when I need to ask for help
  • A move to Asheville to see a new part of the country
  • My blog
  • Having my husband home to help with this sick day.  A sleepless night for me meant needing some extra sleep this morning.  
  • To reconnect with the friends I've kind of shut out this year because of my own things going on with myself, my head, and my heart.  I'm ready to give more of ME again and let some people in.  
  • Write more.  And Read more of the blogs I love and comment more often to tell them I'm there and I see and hear them and appreciate their stories.  I'm just feeling ready to bring this part of my life back a bit more after being so absent (which is okay too).  
  • Tell those special people in my life what they mean to me.  More often.  
  • Take things one step at a time.  
  • Celebrate and embrace gratitude.  

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Facing Fear with Gratitude and Receiving Abundance

What a week. Trip to California.  Disneyland.  MAJOR PMS mood swings. Sick all week. Sick and tired led to missed workouts. Then the flu came for a visit.  First it hit my husband on our second day at Disney and then on our last day it was apparent that we would all be doomed eventually.  Who needs fireworks and seeing Tinkerbell fly over the castle when you get to have your three year old son projectile vomit all over you and the freshly made hotel sheets?  Not once, not twice but throwing up all night and into the next day.  Lucky for us, the throwing stopped up long enough for us to fly home and put everyone to bed and wait for the rest of us to join the throw up party.  Hey, at least we didn't ALL have the flu during vacation.  

Now that we are home, most of us still a little sick, Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and my house is turned upside down in a mess of scattered suitcase trailings, I'm feeling just a tad out of control.  And my old "friend" called fear is back for a visit.  Fear of what really?  Well, I'm learning more and more that I'm surely fearful of not being in control!  We all have control issues to some extent.  And in many ways, being a person who wants control and strives to feel a sense of control isn't necessarily a bad thing. Feeling a sense of control leads to success and security.  But it is how we react when life seems so out of control that can be tricky.  Fear of CHANGE and AMBIGUITY is another big one for me.  So here I am.... lots of ambiguity in regards to my life and what is coming next (especially with this planned move to NC).  And lots of feeling out of control with things.  My ducks just don't seem to be in a row. They are all over the place.  Training has started but I so desperately feel like I am getting nowhere fast (I know, not the the best attitude).  With my feet going off and on with discomfort, the stress of not yet being able to do much with the move but knowing that there is so much yet to do (insurance change, house rental, moving company/packing, finding a home in NC, finding a school for my kids, not knowing the area, not knowing how much my husband will be traveling, etc. etc.), sick kids, travel, holidays, weight gain, and other things I won't list, I'm feeling like it just might be time for a good ol' list of gratitude.  Stream of consciousness style.  It's been WAY TOO LONG!  And I can't express enough how strongly I believe in the power of focusing on the positives...the abundance we have in life.  It almost always brings more of the good stuff. I'm going to play some tunes and keep adding to this list as I dig myself out of this mess of a house and nurse my sweet sick kiddos.  Here goes.   

Thankful for:
  • Having the flu.  Seriously, as much as it has been awful.  There were some benefits.  I was forced to be in bed all day and give my VERY tired feet (think marathon days at Disneyland plus running) a much needed rest.  And forget stress eating...that wasn't even an option unless I wanted to throw it all up.  So the flu wasn't bad for my growing butt (ha!  Now, I don't recommend getting the flu as a weight loss program ladies and really this is all in jest).  
  • A warm house when it is so windy, rainy and cold outside.
  • The ability to run
  • A husband that loves me so very much.  He's been here for me through all that life brings.  Patiently and fully.  
  • Kids to love, learn from, and teach.  As challenging as it is, it is beyond rewarding.  What a treasure they are.  And will be.  Nobody said it would be easy.
  • Having an inner strength and the will to always strive for being my best self and living my best life.  Not settling for ordinary but really living with intention and purpose when it comes to making my life extraordinary.  
  • LOVE. 
  • Friendships that give and take so effortlessly.  So selflessly.  So wonderfully.  I've been blessed with some pretty amazing people in my life and I've had some special people make their way into my universe...people that have proven that they are here to love me no matter what.  
  • Adventure.  As much as I am scared of change and ambiguity, I am excited by new possibilities to explore life and make new chapters for our life.  I'm excited for Asheville.
  • Being okay with just being.  I don't have any huge goals right now and THAT's OKAY.  Even with marathon training.  I'm just going to let it unfold and try desperately to let go of some control here.  JUST RUN.  I hope I can do this. 
  • Vulnerability.  It almost always brings me back to myself when I can be open and really face myself and inner issues head on.  And be REAL with the people in my life that matter.  Always worth being vulnerable with the people I love.  Always.  
  • Cat Stevens.  Ha!  Playing right now on my Pandora stream.  LOVE.  Cat Stevens always has a way of brining me back to myself a little when I'm a little off my track.  
  • Music.  Particularly Cello Music lately.  I've found so much comfort in it during this stage in my life...more than usual.  This has been such a year of a more introverted Amanda and music has been a great companion.  A great source of has helped me find words for ME.  This might not make any sense to anyone but me.  
  • Being in my 30's.  
  • Being able to identify and "feel" my feelings instead of ignoring them or trying to skirt around them.  It is okay to feel fearful, sad, unsure, confused, and a little lost.  Just as it is okay to feel joyful, excited, and full of life! 
  • Struggles.  They make us stronger.
  • Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday.  
  • GOOD neighbors that love us and that we love.  Leaving them (and this community) will be so so hard even if it is a good opportunity.  
  • Kind people that don't expect anything in return when they give of themselves.  
  • A girl trip coming up where I will be able to unplug and just be with one of my favorite people.  Fully connecting.  And a husband who supports this.  
  • The opportunity to have been home with my kids for the past 3 years.  I feel myself approaching the time where I might be needing something else to get involved in but for now I'm going to keep striving to be in the present and enjoy this time while I have it.  It goes way too fast.  
  • Recognizing FEAR.  How else would I know that I needed to push past it?  Good things are ahead when I find myself recognizing and facing some real fears.  


Friday, November 16, 2012

This is Who I Am

Feels good to be at a place in my life where I don't care so much about what others think of what I think.  Yet another reason why I love my 30's and why I know I'll love my 40's and my 50's.... I'm pretty certain that life gets better with age.  With every year I grow older, I also grow more into


With this growth comes
bigger goals,
and the realization
         that so much is possible
Just by being
WHO I AM. Without Worry about what others think.

This wasn't always easy for me to do. Still isn't entirely. In my 20's I always felt slightly embarrassed by my energy, lack of verbal filter, laugh that could be heard from the down the halls, and tendency to say things that most people rarely even allow themselves to think.  I felt like TOO MUCH sometimes. I was the person that definitely left an impression...just one of mixed reviews. It was easy to be ME but not so easy to be carefree about being ME after the fact.  Often I'd come home from social gatherings and ask my husband "Did I make a fool of myself?!"  and he'd smile and assure me that even if I did, he loved the fool in me, the untamed me.

I'd find myself coming home from my teaching job worried about whether or not I worded my e-mails the right way or if I came across as too much of a "know-it-all"with my desire to share about the books I was reading and the new ideas I had for change.  I was fearful about sharing my ideas that went against the "NORM" for this reason but yet I had SO many of them...they were spilling all over the place.  Worrying was exhausting.

My 20's brought more passion and ideas than I knew what to do with.  It was seeping from every part of me but rarely did I feel entirely safe sharing it all with my colleagues, friends, or others in my life.   I felt like my passion and radical views seemed too much for those around me. And who would take a 20 something's ideas seriously anyway, right?  At least that's how it seemed.   I didn't feel big enough to speak out too loudly about things.  So, although I did live most of my life moments outside of the box, I wrapped things up before they got too far.  I was worried about what others thought.  I wanted to be accepted.  I didn't want to be the squeaky wheel that stirred too much up even it did mean being true to myself.  I wasn't confident enough to make as much change as I wanted to see.  I was afraid of people saying

"Who does she think she is?"

I certainly feel these inhibited sides to my 20 something year old self creep up from time to time and keep me from being as courageous and outspoken as I'd like to be...she holds me back sometimes ...from making change and going out there and taking life by the reins.  Sometimes, the other side to my 20 year old self comes out  in full force too (this is the part I've held on to the most) and gives me just enough of that bold and daring dose of thinking big and believing in dreams that I need.

 But, really, something has happened in me as I approach my mid 30's....

I've found so much more courage to go along with that passion that's still there.  I've found so much more of a VOICE to stand up and say


Whatever I do with the rest of my 30's and the time ahead of me, I know that that feisty, free spirited, live with my whole heart, outside-the-box, passionate, and full of hope and belief in endless possibilities Amanda is and always has been there.  I'm just not nearly as afraid to be true to her.       Here's to hoping this Amanda will stick around always. My life is certainly more colorful with her helping guide the way.  

Do you worry about what others think?  Or did you at one point in your life?   I used to a ton more than I do now.  But I'm getting better with age.  I suppose I still worry in some ways when it comes to motherhood, wondering if my ideas about education and religion offend people, etc.  
Do you let what others think get in the way of speaking your mind, sharing your goals, and going out and making your dreams reality?  Sometimes.  But I'm really MUCH MORE outspoken than I ever have been before.  This is refreshing.  I can only hope it will stay this way as I get closer to a new chapter in my life and possibly go back to teaching, school, etc.  


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Simple Happy Sunday and Beach Run

Just a few bullets:

  • Enjoying sunny California.
  • Running along the coast with sunshine, a light breeze, and blue skies = HAPPY
  • A weekend with my brother, sister-in-law and sweet nephew also = HAPPY
  • Building up mileage slowly.  
  • Feet feeling a little off the past few days. Pelvic bone starting to hurt again too...must be that rotating hip/pelvis or whatever it is that my sports chiro helps me fix when I see him.  Makes me a little bummed out to feel so "off" and in a bit of pain all over when I sleep.  Something just isn't right but I'm trying to stay on top of it.  
  • 10 beautiful beach miles this morning.  Easy 8:17 average...first mile 8:33 and last mile 7:58.  Focused on my Chi Running points:  Body sensing, Relaxation, Meditation, and Breathing.  
  • Taking the kids to Disneyland soon.  Excited to see their JOY.  
  • About 4 months until my next marathon (Napa Valley).  Also about 4 months until we go on a new adventure to Asheville, NC.  Excited for both of them.
  • Running again makes me feel a CALM I haven't felt much the past few months.  
  • Running more often also is helping my clothes fit correctly again.  I'm currently about 8 lbs heavier than I was 6 months ago.  I know this isn't much but I feel it and it just isn't entirely comfortable.  I love my body and have good body image at this stage in my life but I also know when I need to lose a few pounds and start watching what I eat again.  
  • I'm thinking I need to stock up on my Brooks Launches since they won't be around much longer.  I ran in the Pure Flows almost exclusively around April and I ran my July marathon in them.  However, now that I'm back in my Launches, I'm realizing how much I'm going to miss them.  Must start experimenting with some other Brooks shoes.  
1.  Are you a fan of Brooks Launches?  If so, what will you be running in once they aren't around anymore?  Flows?  
2.  What's your favorite environment to run in?  I like the beach, forest trails, mountains...they all beat running through suburban neighborhoods.  


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Bring on 34", said the Ship.

Birthday card from my Mom@ChertheArt
It's been just about two years since I started this blog.
This space, just for me.
A place to express myself,
   dream big.
    the moments.
A place to dig deep in this
of MINE.
A place to be REAL.  Raw.
To give of myself as I come.

I've come to love this place, this space,
    in the cyber world.
Just for me
to share ME,
and connect with
You...and you...and you.

I started this blog when I was almost 32.
At 32, I wrote about randomness, love, life and...well...32! 

33 brought some deep thoughts...
A letter to my dad, who died when he was only
33. Weird to be that age.

33 has brought with it a
New Relationships that have touched me to my core.
A whirl of big events.
and Processing,
That has left me catching my breath a little bit.
A lot.
A year that has brought with it,
a feeling of constantly trying to catch up with myself.
Moments that have challenged me.
Some depression.  Some demons that have come back to be beat
    once and for ALL.
Certainly smiles and Joyful waves washing over this world of mine.
Letting go.
Moving past "friendships" that were never really good for me,
And letting in others that have blessed me so deeply.

Moment after moment that has left me


To SAIL my SHIP on to
New Horizons.
Taking with me the lessons of 33.
Lessons that are reminders of what's really important,

All that is spread out before me.
All that is ALREADY there,
    for ME.
All that has ALWAYS BEEN,
Waiting for ME.
    But Me,
Not always quite ready to see

But I'm READY.
Ready to Sail on....
to 34.
A ship, ready for new horizons.

"Bring on 34", said the Ship.

Interesting that I just now found out that my mom was inspired to paint the above painting while listening to her and my dad's favorite song, Sailing by Christopher Cross.  I was never a huge fan of the song but it DOES bring back so many memories of being a kid.  Whenever it came on, my mom would tell us that it was one of our dad's favorite songs.  And even if I didn't like the song so much for the music itself, it did bring a smile to my heart.  

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Marathon, Coming Full Circle Again, and Next Marathon...Going Back to Cali!

Close to 10 years ago, I found myself ready to for my first marathon.  After taking a long break from any kind of racing after competing in track and cross country in high school and college, my running brain was saying "Yes, Let's do this!" I had never wanted to run a marathon before and I didn't know a thing about training for one but I figured it would be a fun thing to do during my last year before I got married, had kids and started a new chapter in life.  So, I googled marathon training and went with the first plan I found.  It happened to be a Hal Higdon plan.  It didn't really matter to me what plan I followed.  I had no goal other than to finish.  Then somehow I chose The Napa Valley Marathon as the marathon that would take my marathon virginity.

During my training for this first marathon, I spent most of my days after work running on the the treadmill at the gym since it was dark.  I would put the treadmill on a 1.0 incline and a speed of 7.5 (8:00 pace) and I would just run.  Then some stretching/pilates/weights and I was done.  I'm pretty sure I did at least one day of 800's or something like that and a long run in the forest by my city apartment. Most of my long runs were with a friend of mine that was training for the same marathon.  When we ran together, we ran these really sometimes even close to 10 minute pace.  I just went along with whatever he felt like he needed to run and we enjoyed conversation as we made our way through the winding forest paths.  Then I'd come home and enjoy my child-free life with a good beer and some couch time with my feet up while grading papers.  This training was a perfect routine to have in my life as I was planning a wedding, working through some emotional stuff (imagine! ) and burning off stress that came from still being a new teacher.

On race weekend, we drove down to Napa with our good friends (one of them running too).  This race was pressure free.  No expectations.  Just me in my oversized layered cotton t-shirts, perfect B cups (had to throw that in there somewhere even if it doesn't have anything to do with the marathon), shoes that I bought because they were on sale, and some shorts I'd worn for 10 years. Oh, and pretty sure I had on my normal cotton undies under my non-ideal/non-sweat wicking fabric running shorts that probably crept up the entire way.  I didn't know anything about :

  • fueling
  • running gear
  • arm warmers
  • racing shoes
  • compression sleeves
  • certainly had never seen a freaking sparkle skirt
  • running with music (pretty sure they didn't allow walkman cassette players on the course that year! ha!)  
  • pace plans
  • sweat wicking fabric
  • Garmins
  • Pace bands
Every mile of this marathon was liberating for me.  I was dealing with some big-to-me issues during that time in my life but as I ran through the open roads and saw the vineyards and fields with horses running free, my worries rolled away.  It was just me and my thoughts. A small marathon. Nobody out there cheering and few runners near me.  Just legs carrying me, face stretched out in a smile, sun breaking through the early morning fog...innocent and naive of what this thing called a Marathon was all about.  I didn't have a pacing plan or strategy.  Just a Timex watch that I looked at every 2 miles.  If I was under 16:00, I felt happy.  Sounded good to me. And stopping for two bathroom breaks?  No problem...after all, time wasn't an issue.  As far as fuel?  Well, I had one packet of GU that I "sipped" on throughout the race starting at mile 6.  There was no strategy.  

When I finished in 3:22:24, I was all smiles just for finishing.  I didn't have anything to compare this race to.  I was free of pressure or expectations.  I was just blissfully immersed in the feeling that came from completing my first marathon and getting lost on the roads of Napa...traveling with myself through 26.2 miles.  With every mile, I shed a little bit of worry or fear.  I stepped into myself.  

After the race, I found out that I had placed in my age group and someone informed me that I had qualified for Boston and asked me if I was planning on going.  I remember asking them why I'd go all the way to Boston for a marathon and what it was all about.  Ha!  After they informed me that you had to qualify and that it was a big deal, I decided "Why not?!  Sounds fun.  Yes, I'll do it." and I made plans to be in Boston in 2004.  

A section from my journal on my way home from Napa that weekend:

3-3-03 (this 3 thing is significant for later)
"....realizing my capabilities and life possibilities 
when I am able to unleash, separate my mind and body from my FEARS that seem to control too much of me."  

Next Marathon
2012 has been a big year for me.  Lots  has happened....big decisions, big races, injury, new relationships, decisions to move to a new place, traveling, meeting some dear friends...some big shifts in my world/soul/life.  I've definitely found myself at a crossroads of sorts and I'm excited for the new chapter that awaits me in 2013.  I'm certain that it will be extraordinary.  

As of now, I am registered for Boston 2013.  And we still plan on moving to Asheville, North Carolina  in March.  The more I've been thinking of how much is involved in really training hard for a marathon and what it is like to get to race day and want to do your best after so many weeks of gearing up, I realize that Boston just might not be the race for me to focus on.  It will right after we move, the kids will probably end up coming with us, I will be meeting up with several good friends that aren't running and I'd like the chance to relax more and enjoy my time with them instead of having a big A-goal race hovering over my head.  And so much more. 

So, after some thought, I've decided not to have Boston 2013 be my next focused marathon.  I still plan on being there and probably running for fun if my body says yes but I will be training for another pretty significant marathon that will be here in about 17 weeks.  

I'm going back to Cali!  I'm returning to Napa where this all started.  Returning to a place, a race, that provided such peace and clarity for my life almost 10 years ago.  And the more I think about this race, the more I'm certain it is FOR SURE the race I'm meant to train for.  In addition to being right before we move (how nice to have this training to focus on and keep me on track and feeling productive as we lead up to this big move), there are also some pretty neat NUMBER SIGNS that tell me that this race has some significance for me.  

Bear with me, I know some of you don't believe in signs and all that weird talk about serendipity and things being meant to be and the significance of numbers and symbols....blah blah blah.  And maybe I don't really either but whatever works in getting psyched up here.  Here are some of the big reasons why I find this race significant besides just the fact that it was my FIRST marathon and during a very BIG time in my life and now here I am coming full circle in a sense and read to start a new circle with our move to NC.  

I'm just going to include a group e-mail I sent to some friends/family of mine in regards to this:

"Okay, so on my wonderful run this morning I was thinking more about why I feel so pulled to do the Napa Marathon on March 3rd as my goal race instead of Boston.  More than just logical reasons...but I just have a bigger feelings about it.  So let's just say that you do believe in signs (which I do)...ha!  So, the more I ran this morning, the better I felt...injuries gone!  yay.  And the more I thought of little things that make this race interesting.

*  My mom and I were having sushi the other day and I told her that I look at the clock every time it is 9:09...her birthday and we starting talking about the significance of the number 9.  Has always been a present number in my life:  we used to live on 19192 E. 19th ave.  My birthday is nov. 9th, hers sept 9th, step dad march 9th, bros have 29 and 19.
*  As an adult, the number 3 has had some significance.  
*  Our address is 3333 
*  I am 33
*  Dad was 33 when he died
*  3 x 3 = 9 (my other number)
*  I have 3 kids
*  Napa wil be on 3-3-13 this year
*  Last time I ran it was 2003 
*  as I was thinking of all of these, I looked up at the treadmill and I was at exactly 3.33 miles.  
*  Pretty sure I'll run a time with at least one 3 in it. Maybe 2:  3:03 (ha!), 3:13, 3:23...3 options for that.  Let's not go to the 3:33...I'd rather that NOT be the case. Ha!  But it would make sense with this whole 3 thing.  I just hope that the marathon time is the exception of the 3 3 rule.  :)  
*  Get this...I started running in 1993.  Like really discovering the sport of running.  

I could think of other 3's in my life too that are silly.  

Sounds like signs are pointing to running this marathon before our big life transition with moving to Asheville.  Lots going on in my life the last time I ran Napa...the year I got married was that same year 2003...lots of work going on with me during that time in life March of 10 years ago. That marathon was so much more than just a was healing.  A coming home sort of thing for me...I'll write about it all someday.  I started with lots of questions and conflict and I finished feeling victorious at having finished my first marathon.  So, time to complete this circle and start a new lucky number with my next circle.  Maybe I'll change numbers every 10 years?  I wonder what it will be next. 

So, 18 weeks to Napa and lucky for me, I have a coach that will write up a perfect plan for getting me there if that's my final decision.  Thanks for humoring me and letting me share."

Let's add to this that I just realized that my journal entry on the way home from the Napa Marathon 2003 was written 3-3-03 and that I registered for Napa 2013 last night and not knowing that it was November 3rd.
My bib # for Napa 2003 started with a 3!

All signs pointing to YES.  So here we go....Napa Valley or Bust.  

1. Do you believe in signs?  
2. What was your first race or marathon?  
3.  Good places to stay during the Napa Valley Marathon?  

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