Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Be a Beacon for Each Other; Tell Someone What They Mean

Something for Today: 
Tell someone what they mean to you. Think of someone (close friend, family, acquaintance, or someone you only know from a distance) who has impacted or inspired you in a positive way. Then TELL THEM. Let them know what their words, actions, or example means to you. Thank them. This can be as easy as a text or e-mail but these things truly do matter and can go a long way!

I woke up early this morning.  Earlier than usual anyway.  One of my intentions is to carve out morning time for peaceful and silent reflection just for ME.  This time is when I have some of my most meaningful conversations with myself.  It's the time that, if I listen, I can hear God's voice...and my higher clearly.  Taking the first moments of the day for just being still with my thoughts allows me to see and hear things about life that I might otherwise never slow down enough for.  It also gives me the chance to connect with friends through e-mail when I might not find this time later in the day. Just taking these extra moments in the morning opens up opportunity for lots of things that might otherwise never happen.

My early morning today meant finding time to have coffee with my husband, light a few candles, get a phone call that school is canceled again (again?!), and check my e-mail.  I must be radiating some sort of energy to people that says "contact Amanda" because I woke up to a few e-mails from people I rarely talk to.  One of them was from a little sister of sorts...someone I've known for many years.  I knew her when she was just a little girl.  She was 9 or 10 and I was 16.  Over the years we've kept in touch a bit and had some special moments.  Always an important person to me.  A kindred spirit.  One of those people that you don't have to talk to constantly or keep in touch with regularly.  You are just connected.  Her words to me were simple but so strong.  She expressed how my words have influenced her life and she shared with me how her life has been changing for the better.  In the end she used the word "beacon" to describe what I've been for her.

Beacon : someone or something that guides or gives hope to others.  A light. 

What a beautiful and strong word.  In fact, I might jump on the word trend wagon that's going around and make BEACON my word for the year.  Beacon.  A reminder to find my beacons in life by focusing on, receiving and embracing those things and people that fill me with love, inspiration, and meaning. My friend's words were so affirming to me.  Meaningful.  Perfect timing.  In fact, as I was reading them, they put a light in me.  They were a reminder that we really do make a difference in the world when we share our heart...our spirits...our stories.

My friend's words that she took the time to write to me became MY BEACON for today.  For awhile. And they reminded me of the power in taking the time to tell others what they mean to us.  It can be as simple as a text or e-mail but these words can go a long way.

I sent an e-mail back this morning letting this beautiful woman know how much her words meant to me.  Just as my words and life had been a beacon of sorts to her, her words today were the same for me.  We all have moments where we lose sight of ourselves...where life gets a little foggy as we try to make our way.  Sometimes it is hearing from others in this way (when we least expect it) that can remind us where we are going and uplift us...they make a difference.

Today I want to reach out and tell someone what they mean to me.  Someone that doesn't hear from me very often and might not know what they mean to someone.  This doesn't have to be complicated.  It might just be a simple text thanking them for who they are.  Or a phone call.  Simple.  Simply letting someone know what they mean.

Do you have someone in your life that has been a beacon of sorts (temporarily or constant)?  Is there someone that you can reach out today with a simple text or message that lets them know what they mean and how they have influenced your life in a positive way?  


I don't write here as often as I used to but you can also find Runninghood on:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Six Months

 It's January already!  How did that happen?  Seems like such a blur.  Moving from Oregon to Asheville, NC last March was probably the biggest adventure of our lives.  We just made a decision that life was short and we were ready to try something new for a year.  My husband's work allowed him to do this easily.  Well, is moving across the country with three young kids ever "easy"?  Ha!  But, in the big picture, making this big change flowed quite easily.  Moving costs were covered, it was easy to find renters for our house, we had a place to stay in Asheville until we found our perfect little house in this little town, and all the excitement that comes with discovering a new place was ours to enjoy day after day!

"For one year", we said.  We'd move for about a year and then come back so that our kids could be raised near family.  One. Year.  Seemed like a pretty awesome plan. No problem.  I just wasn't prepared to fall in love with a place like I have with HERE.  I wasn't prepared to have my breath taken away by the Blue Ridge Mountains day after day.  I wasn't expecting to have a feeling of "coming home" when we settled here. I didn't imagine that living in this small town with my front porch swing and walk to coffee and library life would still provide our family with so much. So much  community and charm but yet still so close to the funky, artistic, one of a kind city of Asheville. I never imagined that I'd have the perfect soft dirt/gravel path near Beaver Lake to run around day after day or trails at our finger tips for our dates (when we find a sitter).  I never imagined that once I got here, I wouldn't want to leave.

But we're sticking to the plan.
Six months left.
I've avoided thinking too much about this.  When I do, it puts a pit in my stomach and my heart hurts a little (or a lot if I was going to be my normal dramatic self).
I've been digging my heels in, dropping little hints about staying forever, wishing, hoping....But all along I know in my heart of hearts that raising our kids near their very loving and supportive Grandparents and extended family (who want nothing more than to be a part of their life as much as possible and create some lasting and loving memories) is a RICHNESS that can't be replaced with HERE.  I know that moving back is the right thing for us despite my desires to stay here (what feels like home) forever.

This morning, I woke up with the intention to snap out of this mindset of already missing something that I haven't even said goodbye to yet.  Instead of thinking of how much I don't want to go, I will be thinking of how much living I still have HERE.  I will think of all the things I still have to look forward to TODAY... the next six months.

In the next six months I will:

  • Continue to run my favorite trail almost daily (and no, it doesn't get old even though it is only 2 miles for every loop).
  • Keep exploring Asheville.
  • Make new friends and develop the ones that I have made but been too scared (until now) to bond with too deeply.  
  • Volunteer and stay involved with the Literacy Council
  • Keep training for the Boston Marathon. Training has been so joyful! 
  • Travel as much as we can on this side of the country.  A big trip coming up really soon that I'm super excited about...and way easier to fly to from here than Oregon.  YES to seeing the world!!  
  • Take a road trip to Boston in April to stay with friends, run a marathon and show our kids a big part of history.  
  • Enjoy 3 more seasons in these Blue Ridge Mountains that I love so much...the rest of winter, spring, and the beginning of summer. Oh glorious summer with fire flies, humid nights (yes, I love this), sitting on my porch with coffee while watching birds and the town streets filled with families taking evening strolls.  
  • Continue watching my kids thrive!  They are all three doing so well right now.  My son (gosh, he's had a rough start here) has made tremendous strides this last month or so and I only see it getting better.  So proud of him! My mama heart is beaming right now. All the hard work of the last many months is paying off.  
  • Keep being conscious of my goals for life, particularly the way I am as a mother.  This is the most important role to me out of all my roles I play in life. Patience. Love. Modeling. Presence. 
  • Take part in the Asheville Marathon and Half Marathon as an ambassador and using the half as a training run.  
  • Visit the Biltmore Estates as often as possible until we leave.  What beautiful and romantic grounds!  
  • Be open to receiving fully whatever life has in store for us each and every day, including six months from now.  
  • Love fully.  
  • Live richly.
  • Give myself.
  • Reach out.
  • Keep learning.  
  • And a big one:  Keep getting rid of fear!  Fear of sharing myself (knowing I'll just be leaving).  Fear of change.  Fear of not knowing what life holds.  Goodbye fear.  Farewell.  I won't miss you.  
Oh, I'll hold on to THIS day always.  

So, here's to SIX MONTHS!  Amazing all that can happen in Six Months if we are present and willing enough to truly LIVE and make the most out of our life!  


I don't write here as often as I used to but you can also find Runninghood on:

Monday, January 13, 2014

An Energy Shift and Writing Us Through Personal Affirmations

Something shifted in my life this weekend. Energy.  Perspective.  Something tangible.  A wake up call of sorts.  I say this weekend because this is when I felt this shift the strongest.  But really, this shift has been in progress for quite some time.  Lots of work going on in this head and heart and spirit of mine.  A quiet process that hasn't been entirely easy. Good work is never entirely easy.  I woke up Sunday morning feeling like I'd just been given a new pair of glasses that allowed me to see myself, my life, and those I love so dearly in a new, beautiful, hopeful, bright and full of possibility way.  It was like I was remembering myself for some things but yet seeing something new and different.  Shedding a layer.  I can't adequately explain this new page I find myself on but I do know in my bones that it is here to stay.  I'm determined to hold on.  But really, I don't think I need to hold on to anything.  I think I just need to BE...right where I am.

My run on Sunday was a reflection of this energy shift.  I went to my usual path around the lake where I expected my favorite dirt/gravel path to myself. Instead, the path was full of people enjoying the beautiful blue skies and spring-like day.  Friends laughing, families walking hand in hand, dads throwing frisbees for sons, dogs running free, smiling faces turning towards the bright sky to soak up the was a glorious day!  The energy within myself and around me was amazing!  I set out on my 10 mile run knowing instantly that this run would be all mine. No trying to stick to my designated "easy pace range" or thinking too much about anything other than soaking up all the life around me.  I was running with my heart, not my head.  I just wanted to run what was easy and happy for me on this day.  A glorious unleashing.  I finished with a huge little-girl-like smile stretched out over my face. Oh how good it felt to run so free and happy.  And strong.  In fact, I'm pretty sure, I was smiling the entire run.  It was a run I needed in so many ways.

One of the things I was yet again reminded of on Saturday night is of just how valuable of a life tool my journals are for me.  The habit of writing down my long and short term goals, personal affirmations, gratitude and self reflections is a habit that carries over into all areas of my life in such powerful ways.  Writing these things down helps me with accountability, self awareness, and the ability to see things from new perspectives.  It's not for everyone but it does work for me in helping me make my life what I want it to be and in staying true to my values and dreams.  My time in my time writing down my goals and seeing my affirmations and gratitude on paper is as important to my life as physical exercise and eating healthy.  It's my language with myself.

Some affirmations for today to go along with my current goals:

On Mothering with LOVE and GRACE:
  • I respond in a way that heals instead of reacting in a way that harms.  
  • I use my words to uplift and empower.  
  • I model calm and thoughtful responses.  
  • I am present with conversations and play
On Being the Friend I Want to Be:
  • I am an open ear and available when my friends need me.
  • I communicate in a way that lets my friends know I care.  
  • I hold my closest friends close.  I'd rather have my treasures of friendships be small in number but rich in depth than miles and load of "friends" that are only superficial and surface.  
On Being the Wife I Want to Be:
  • I am faithful and loving in my actions, words, and thoughts
  • I give him the freedom to be himself while lovingly encouraging and supporting him in making and striving for new goals for self-improvement.
  • I am adventurous and open to trying new things
  • I work on our love life. I tend to it like I would my greatest garden.  
On Being the Athlete I Want to Be:
  • I find JOY in my running and marathon training
  • I follow a plan and trust the process
  • I believe in myself and  the value in daily exercise, eating healthy, staying strong and sticking to a goal
  • I use the energy that comes from physical self-discipline to make myself stronger in all other areas of my life. 
  • I seek balance in my life

Do you write down your personal and positive affirmations, goals and gratitude?  Do you put these things where you can see them?  Why or why not?  Again, I don't think this habit is for everyone.  But it does work for me. In so many ways.  I've written my goals, visions for my life, affirmations and gratitude for most of my life and I've seen these thing manifested in some pretty amazing ways!  It's part of intentional living for me.  I was laughing the other other night when I found a sort of life map that I jotted down for myself while in the middle of a graduate class.  It was kind of an outline of a vision I had for what I wanted the next 5 to 7 years of my life to be.  And you know what?  Almost all of it came to be!  I'm not saying that just writing our visions, dreams and goals down will make them come true.  Obviously not.  But by visualizing them, I was made more aware of them and intent on making them happen.  I wrote these things before I was married but I was engaged and in graduate school.  I wrote when I wanted to have each of my three kids (what ages I would be and how far I wanted them spaced), when we'd buy our first house, professional goals, goals to get my masters degree before kids, marathon goals, etc.  And it all happened as written/envisioned.  I should frame those jotted down notes someday... they truly are a dream come true because when I was writing them down, I was breathing life into them by starting with dreaming them up...those dreams led to more focused intention and then I kept my dreams in my head and imagined them and now here we are.  Ready to jot down some more life dreams for the next 5 years perhaps because at this point I'm having a hard time seeing 6 months ahead.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wacky Treadmill Speeds, Trusting Your Running Gut, and Cold Temps

Yes, I'm fully aware that this temperature is what some of you might consider tropical conditions right about now!  If it makes you feel any better, they say that with wind chill, it feels like 5. Which, again, is rather warm for some of you.
Brrr!  Baby, it's cold outside!  Okay, so we have nothing to whine about here in Asheville when I'm hearing from some of you in the midwest and northeast parts of the country.  Having one of my best friends (also a virtual running partner of sorts) be from the northwest part of Minnesota definitely puts things in perspective when I find myself thinking how cold it is and now much treadmill running sucks.  Her -100 temps with windchill and ground conditions mean that her Boston training is a whole heck of a lot of treadmill running...if not exclusively for awhile.  I hope she gets some outside runs in by February!

So, no real whining for me about the weather.  Too many good things going on to take to whining. BUT, it's still cold for us and what we are used to.  Cold and windy.  So much that school was canceled again in anticipation of what the weather could turn into today.  So far, I'm not seeing any reason why my kids shouldn't be in school but is what it is. When they are home from school and I have training runs I want to fit in, I count my blessings that I have options with a treadmill in the basement and a membership at the YMCA.

The treadmill.  So many strong feelings out there about this fine machine that so many of us use for much of our winter training.

As I look back to my past years of marathon training, I'm often in disbelief that I actually trained for them with mostly treadmill running except for my long runs.  Even in the gray and cold rain that was so often an every day reality in the Pacific Northwest, running outside was better than a twenty miler on the treadmill.  However, the treadmill didn't seem to bother me so much in the past.  Not like it does now.

The past couple of weeks of winter break has meant most days on the treadmill.  Some of these runs were on the treadmill at the gym but many of them were in my basement on my home treadmill.  It's a very nice (expensive too) treadmill and has given us many happy and hard miles so I'm not complaining.  Very thankful for it!  Even if it has felt a little OFF lately.  As good of a treadmill as it is, it hasn't felt so accurate and leaves me feeling kind of discouraged!  For example, last week's run that included 2 miles@7:45; short jog; 2 miles@7:30; short jog; 2 miles (turned into 1)@ 7:14 kicked my butt instead of leaving me feeling strong and confident.  It made me feel like I have a loooooong way to go!  The next few runs did felt the same.  Even the runs that were supposed to be easy pace felt a little harder.  I was starting to really be convinced that my treadmill was off on speed!  Especially since the treadmills at the gym didn't feel as fast.  I mean, my ten 800's@3:15ish pace with the last one at 3:09 at the gym last week felt almost easy in a moderate pushing it kind of way.  I felt so strong and ON.  If I would have done these same 800s at this pace on MY treadmill, I would have DIED!

Today, my treadmill speed assumptions were confirmed!  It wasn't all in my head.  Thank Goodness!!

Today's workout:

2mi w/u
5 x 1mi @ 7:00 w/1min I
2mi c/d

When I started my workout, I had just heard from my husband that we would be home soon to finish his work day just in case the weather got worse.  I thought about bundling up and doing my workout outside but I decided to give the treadmill a whirl.

First 2 miles@8:49 (NOT an 8:49 for real).  Texted my friend mid run (sorry for those of you that get offended by my word choice):

Shortly after that text, I wrapped up our text convo with a random picture that made me laugh.  Come on, admit it, it's funny.

After my texting and easy portion of this treadmill run, I put my phone away, and started the tempo portion.  I set the speed at 6:59 pace 1% incline and settled in for my first of 5 miles.  It didn't take more than .25 of a mile to start thinking WTF?!  I mean really?  This is a 7:00 pace?!  If this is a 7:00 pace, I was in trouble!  Not to mention discouraged and disappointed.

At that point, my husband came home.  After my first tempo mile was done, I was ranting on and on about how this can't be right.  This treadmill was so OFF!  How could my 800's at 6:30 pace with the last of 10 at 6:18 pace feel so strong and spot on last week when this felt so hard for what it should feel like for this sort of workout??!

So, after a longer than 1 minute recovery due to my rant, dynamic stretching and gearing up for 4 more, I got back on the saddle and set the pace to 7:04 and put the elevation down.  Still.  Too hard for a tempo feel.  I stopped after .75,  grumbled a bit more until my engineering husband got to work on researching how to testing the speed to see if it was really off or if his wife was just making excuses. I got bundled up and ready to finish my run outside but before I left the house,  the results were in...SURE ENOUGH, I was right!  I wasn't just right about it being was way off in my opinion.  A 6:59 pace on that treadmill was actually a 6:31 pace.  And my 7:04 was actually 6:34.  This makes me feel so much better about this workout and my past two weeks on that thing!

I ran another 6 miles outside with some speed play and a couple of 7:30 miles thrown in the mix.  The cold, sunshine and light flurries weren't so bad.  They were actually quite nice for this born and raised Colorado girl!  I'll take running in 20's with the sunshine any day over running in the Portland winter with rain and gray.

Well, this was quite the long ramble just to talk about my wacky treadmill.  But for some reason, just typing today feels good.  Even if it is just for me.

This paragraph sums up so much of why and what we gain when we train (anything we train for or goal we commit to)....of why we stick to a plan and practice dedication and diligence...So much of what we gain/learn/become through our commitment carries over to our Whole Self and our Whole Life! 

1. How's weather where you live?  What's the coldest temperatures you will run in?  
2.  Do you ever suspect that your treadmill is OFF on speed and needs calibrated?  
3.  Are you training for anything specific?  What?  And do you feel like the dedication and hard work that you give to reaching your goal carries over to being effective in other areas of your life?  


I don't always blog as often as I used to but you can also find Runninghood on: