Race Day, Debriefing, and Vacay

The days leading up to the event and shortly after were a blur. After spending a whole year with a team planning up a one day event, I can only imagine the race day as something along the lines of a wedding day. After months and months of laying everything out, the actual day is overwhelming and wonderful and a lot.

This is my second year on the planning team but the first I’ve made it to the event (thanks, stomach flu) so it was amazing to see it all in person. I helped with publicity so my task was done before event day so I had the chance to be a volunteer and enjoy the event as an attendee after that. My mom volunteered with me to be race course monitors during the actual race. I cheered the 10k crowd on as they ran and was pleasantly surprised at how kind runners are. Many thanked me for volunteering or took time to say Hi to me or Thanks. There were so many people, and I can only hope that through runners, attendees, and everyone else present that we raised a lot of awareness and funds for foster kids in my county. We had a pinwheel garden that had over 1,000 pin wheels in it representing every child in the foster system. It was probably the biggest visual impact we had and new this year.

One of the sweetest surprises of the day was a phone call from my boyfriend. I was a major grump after trying to find parking again post course monitoring and practically yelled at him for asking me if I wanted a starbucks. I scratched my head at that thought since he doesn’t live that far away but it was totally out of his way to get me coffee (but Lord knows I needed it). It turns out, he was super sneaky and signed up for the race and walked/ran it without my knowledge! I was greeted by a java chip light and his smiling face with a race medal around his neck. ❤

This weekend we did our debriefing where we discuss how to make next year even better. It was from 8am-5pm and really did take that long to go over all the bits and pieces. A lot of the team was there and we really have bonded over this event. Our hearts our unified in benefitting foster kids and the rest is history. I will never take a non-profit event for granted after knowing personally how much has to happen behind the scenes.

I’m glad our 2017 planning year is officially done until 2018 planning starts back up in August. That means being able to sleep in again on Saturdays which I could use. Ahhh.

I’ve taken one vacation day this year so far and I realized next month is a halfway marker for the year. I was definitely feeling a little work and home life (renter) burn-out and it happened to work out that one of my best friends and I worked out an 4 day lake getaway. I’m looking forward to some R&R and best friend time with one of my favorite people in the world. 🙂

You’re already so loved.

Part of my goals for today is spread this beautiful message by Sarah Bessey.

Please do take a moment to read it. Please take a moment to process the words. Please take a moment to consider how loved you are no matter your circumstances.

Unsolicited Comments : Mark It as Spam

We’ve all gotten comments and opinions we never asked for or invited. Things like:

“Oh, you started working again? I guess your husband’s income isn’t cutting it.”

“Your body may not be ideal but at least you’ve got a beautiful face.”

“It must be exhausting having a downs child.”

“You’re so skinny. I wish I could eat anything and not gain weight.”

“I can’t believe you still use the microwave. It causes cancer.”

Think of these messages of ignorance and stupidity as flagged messages in your inbox and send them to the spam folder.

Do we open messages in our spam folder? No, because based on the subject line, we know the content may be harmful or that the message is meaningless to us.

In that same line of thinking, I’ve been relating it to the unsolicited comments I’ve received in real life. It sucks that sometimes these comments are said by people close to us, but the fact is their comment doesn’t do any good. Before letting a hurtful comment fester – giving time to internalize their words, and opening myself up to their message, I simply sort it to spam. The real life version of “unsubscribe” is to respectfully tell them that topic is off limits, what they said was rude, or brush it off by changing the subject.

Don’t open their loaded email. Don’t let their words ruin your day or get you down. Treat spam as spam: delete. Keep your inbox for what makes you feel good and builds you as a person. Don’t let messages that don’t fit that filter ruin the good stuff.

As a rule of thumb, I also sort gossip to junk mail. Bye bye, BS.

 

Spring Cleaning

First wave of Spring cleaning: my mind!

Start here this year and I guarantee a better physical decluttering experience of your stuff. You live in your home many hours of the day but you live in your mind 24/7.

Toss out thoughts of self hate and doubt.
Organize your goals and plans for the future so you can access them daily.
Dust off personal achievements so you can see how far you’ve come.
Take care of issues that are keeping you from peace.
Last but not least, save room for good things and don’t let negative things sit in their spot.

Keeping Quiet and Short Term Goals

I like that I have some anonymity here. Sure, I’ve got close friends that read my blog, but they are inner circle people that I don’t mind a little soul spilling to. I’ve been in a funk this month and haven’t been faithful to diet and exercise. But I feel like now that visitors and memorials and other hard things are over, I can better refocus. I know that’s a common theme here and one of my setbacks.

This time I’m keeping quiet in real life. People know I try to eat healthy. People know that I need to lose weight and WANT to lose weight. In fact, there are ladies from my previous church who have seen me at THM meetings and while they whittle their waistline, they probably wonder why I’m not improving dramatically. And that’s when shame sets in. It’s a little bit of progress comparison but mostly realizing that I’m the one that effs things up because I don’t stay focused. From the pinterest posts and fitness memes that shout YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES, to jaw dropping before and after pictures on my THM page, I feel a bit bombarded. In my head, even though they’re positive pictures, they translate to ‘YOU KEEP FAILING YOURSELF and LOOK WHERE YOU COULD BE NOW.’

So mum is the word. No one needs to know what I’m doing because they don’t understand my struggle. And I don’t need positive posts that end up tasting sour in my mouth. I’m letting my diet group go dark and keeping away from fitness posts. I’m not going to talk about weight loss journey with others for a while. I’m just going to push myself and go lalalalalala when I see some crazy 50 lb loss in 6 months or hear my mom blabber on about some new breakthrough weight loss research. I just need to listen to me.

I did something I’ve never done before – I succumbed to weight fear and paid an extra $80 to upgrade my airline seats for a trip. I was fearful, literally, fearful, that I wouldn’t fit. I thought about the shame of being told I’d need to buy another seat and how it would melt away all the self-confidence I’ve worked on building. I’m fearful because I know I’m that big. I’m the end-of-the-airline-seatbelt big. I’m hold-my-shoulders-in-so-the-flight attendant-doesn’t-bump-into-me big. Since I’m flying on a budget airline with smaller everything, I just couldn’t risk smaller than industry standard seats.

So now I have a 2 month goal. I have something to look forward to and fight for.  Sure, I still have upgraded seats, but I’m determined not to feel like I’m spilling out of it with what little time I have to work towards it. The upgraded seats are only 2″ wider. It’s not going to make a huge difference. But, I can work on toning my flabby body to help. And I can eat good on plan foods that will dramatically improve any bloat or water retention I’d have otherwise from bad eating. And feel good from diet and exercise, I can use that energy to play with my nephews and not sweat the homemade meals my friend makes that do not fit my diet.

Ideally, I’d like to aim for a 15-25 lb loss and hit the gym 5x a week until my flight. I won’t say anything outside of here though. I’ll just push myself and hope results speak for themselves one day. The race I’m helping with is late April, and I figure that even though I’m not running, since I’m helping with the event, it would be great to show up with lots of energy and endurance for a full day of running around and interacting with people who run and are fit. It’s like an armor of confidence I can wear knowing I’m working hard at my goals even though I’m not where I want to be yet.

Let’s see how far I can go. Let’s see where I am in late May from pushing myself and listening to myself.

Looking Ahead

It’s that time of year. You know, the one where Easter is around the corner and you scratch your head because it was just New Years Day.

This Saturday is my Uncle’s memorial service. It’s been rough on my aunt – she told me she is ready for the event to be over with. I think she’s wanting it to happen so she can have a final sense of closure. After all, he passed over a month ago. She’s very independent, strong, and a good kind of feisty, so it’s hard but also comforting to see her open up about her grieving. I was a blubbering mess on my Uncle’s last day, but she was as cheerful as one could be with a spouse on his deathbed. She kept things lighthearted and only paused to cry at the end. I can’t imagine how hard widowhood is. They would have celebrated 50 years in August.

The race and foster fair I am helping with is also getting very close – we’re 5 weeks away ! We’ve had a few setbacks but we’re hopeful that our 2016 event will be as strong as last year’s. Some of the little tasks I’ve taken on include calling local places for silent auction items. Talk about a stretcher. I am not a phone person. At all. I hope my awkwardness isn’t detected as strongly on the other side of the line.

In May, I’m going to visit one of my oldest friends and her family. I am so excited even though I have no idea what to expect (except humidity, ick!) How do you plan a trip to see one of the people you’re closest to and their family knowing it will probably be another three years until you see them again? Her youngest is four and I haven’t seen him since his first birthday. That breaks my heart a little since they all call me auntie and the only recollections he probably remembers of me are from Skyping. Her middle child just recently got baptized and start kindergarten this year. Her eldest was in kindergarten the last time I saw him in person! And I think the most exciting part is that her husband in the three years out there has recommitted himself to Christ. God is doing big things in their lives and I can’t wait to see it all in person.

I’ve decided to take another Bible study break after we finish 2 Thessalonians. We’re a little less than halfway through 1 Thessalonians are the moment and it has been such a rewarding inductive study. I like breaks because the studies are quite intensive and I’d feel burnt out if I went year round. I’d like to take the break to continue Bible art journaling and studying scripture on my own. I’d also like to use that time block in the evening to get more gym time in.

I feel like there are some big hills this half of the year, and who knows what the second half holds, but I’ll continue looking ahead with hope for the good things.

‘Rape Whistle’

metal Whistle

 

We met up for sushi. It was a little past noon, midday, and the place we gathered at is in a safe suburbia town. After our meal, we pulled our keys out of our purses and pockets in preparation to leave. As ladies, we all knew keys in hand meant saving a few seconds where we could possibly be distracted and targeted as prey. I know I’ve been told more than a handful of times to have them out and that the end of a key can work as a weapon of self defense if needed.

Diligently shining from all of our keychains was a whistle. Mine, the shape of a coach’s whistle with the little ball inside, all silver. Some of them had flute like whistles that were shaped more like wands in different metallic colors. We all had them. Each one of us.

“Oh hey,” a friend exclaimed, “I see you guys all have rape whistles too.”

It was funny because it was true, but it was also sobering. We were all concerned enough to equip ourselves with a device that basically shrills in case our voices fail us or don’t carry in the midst of harm. If people see a whistle on a guy’s keychain or lanyard, their first thought is that he coaches. If people see a whistle on a gal’s keychain, it’s not even a safety whistle. It’s a ‘rape whistle’.

Most people in their right mind agree that rape is wrong. Because it is. It certainly is wrong. However, even those who believe it’s wrong are divided. One extreme believes that women who may dress or act a certain way or who perhaps venture somewhere late at night are ‘asking for it.’ The other extreme types ALL CAPS flaming messages about people supporting ideas like carrying a whistle, using rape drug detecting nail polish, and locking panties, claiming it tries to shift responsibility on the victims when rape is always wrong and never the fault or lack of preparation of the victim.

There is so much division, and so many limitations are placed on women because rape exists. Whether or not ladies feel safer walking down the street with a whistle, pepper spray, or locking panties, the bottom line is we’ve advanced SO MUCH as a society, but are still dealing with inexcusable rape statistics.

It’s not just women. Men are raped too. The statistics of rape cases involving incarcerated men is shocking. People joke about butt sex in prison and guys ripping other guys a new one, but at the core of their crudeness, what they are advocating is rape. How are we still taking rape so lightly in our culture, in this day and age?

We own our own bodies. They are important, and they are ours. No one has permission to do to our bodies what we do not allow. We are to respect our own bodies and respect others’ bodies. Anything other than yes means no. These simple truths are universally permeable, yet rape still happens. I just don’t get it. I dream that one day in the near future, these simple truths will resound enough to eradicate rape.

I hope that one day, when I pull out my keys, my whistle can truly be a safety whistle, not a rape whistle.

Dad and Daughter Time

I feel like growing up, my family kind of divided stuff. I went on outings with my mom, and my brother did stuff with my dad. I was homeschooled by him for a majority of my primary education so it’s not like he wasn’t around or we weren’t close. In fact, he was the relaxed parent and so Nate and I loved spending time with Dad (and sometimes conning him into our shenanigans.) But it seems like once college hit I just kind of let our relationship coast. My brother spent a lot of time with Dad and I figured it was just like when were were growing up.

Now that Dad’s been retired for over a decade, his mannerisms are very routine and sometimes scarily robotic. Like, I could guess that this morning he had a cup of cereal mixed with a single serve container of yogurt and drank coffee black with sweetener. And that by now, he’s probably been to the weather channel to see what kind of conditions our loved ones and friends in other states are being subjected to. I can tell you that around 5pm-6pm the TV is vouched for because it’s time for him to watch the local news. I can tell you that after dinner he hunches over the computer with a pair of headphones watching an episode or two of Netflix. And sometimes, that robotic also includes his interaction or lack thereof with family members. He does his own thing almost like no one else is around. It really bothered me when I moved out. I expected my family to pay some dang attention to me when I was over and made the time to be present, but usually my mom was chatting on the phone or busy cooking and my dad would say hi and go back to his regularly scheduled program.  I know he isn’t aware of this, but for years, I just decided it wasn’t worth it to change anything. Until a few years ago when I realized time is precious. And this year, when my uncle who is only months older passed away.

I feel like this is an area I fail a lot. Sometimes I am cruel to my dad. I hate to say that but it’s true. I don’t know if I feel mentally superior or entitled or that he doesn’t understand me…but it’s not good. Just this past week, in a rush to work, I told him it was worthless for him to wake up and make coffee 15 minutes before I run to work because 70% of the time I’m already about to run out of the door and he’s in my way. What the hell. That was not okay. But it came out. And this week after I made that poor comment, he has slept in and there is no coffee made and no one to share breakfast with. He has poor hearing and sometimes replies yes or uh-huh without letting me know he didn’t hear me. Sometimes he doesn’t hear right and that causes issues too. So yeah, I am sometimes short fused and repeat things until I’m yelling.

Despite some short comings this week, I willed to spend more intentional time with him because my mom was out of town. I proposed a dad and daughter date. We went out to dinner on Wednesday and I felt like what I was able to say was just small talk and felt awkward. But I could tell like all loving parents he was so happy to have me instigate a dad and daughter date. I asked him if he wanted to grab dinner and watch something in theaters. I let him pick the restaurant and movie. By the time I opened the door that afternoon he was ready to go and reminded me several times of the time in anticipation to start our night out. Even though we only small talked it was still nice and he enjoyed both the dinner and the movie we went to see.

Yesterday we also had dinner together and watched it while his 6pm news segment was on. Plates in hand in the living room, watching channel 5 news. We didn’t say much but he enjoyed the food and complimented it several times and was smiling.

I think I’ve learned two things this week. Maybe three. First of all, this intentional relationship thing is harder than I thought and I kind of stink at it. But, two, my dad enjoyed it and saw that I was trying. I think I need to accept that I’m a complex thinker and a very different and sensitive personality type and my dad is not. He’s a very simple, enjoy life and the small things kind of guy. He’s practical and on the range of emotional empathy scores very average while I over analyze everything. If I can remember this and not try to expect too many social cues and responses I think it’ll help me. My mom is more like me, more complex, very sensitive to others reactions and emotions, and reacts more to compliments and general comments. I’ve spent a lot of time appreciating that and not enough time appreciating the benefits of my dad’s personality and personhood. It’s that personality that still got excited for a dad and daughter date the day after his daughter complained about his small act of love of getting up earlier than he likes to make coffee for both of us. The personality who said nothing in response though he has the right to as I ran out the door. The one who selflessly tried several times to let me pick the dinner spot and movie because he wanted me to enjoy it. The one who smiled ear to ear as I walked in after work on Wednesday knowing he’d be spending the whole afternoon with me. ❤

Vitality Corner

I’ve done a few big projects to make my room a sanctuary and here’s a project I’d like to complete next: a vitality corner of encouraging quotes and pictures and many plants.

plant-leaves

I would call it a vitality shrine but some would take offense to that because of the religious connotations people assume with the word ‘shrine.’ It’s not religious in an idolatrous way, but it is reflective and meditative.

I want to use green plants as a reminder of all the things I want to be: 

– I want to bloom as I prepare myself emotionally, financially, and physically for mid-life. 

– I want to reach new heights.

– I want to seek the light even if I must bend and outstretch in one direction towards it. 

– I want to nourish my body with good healthy food and kindness so that my radiant outside reflects a well fed and cared inside. 

– I want to be growing in Christ. I feel tingling in my roots and hope to know and experience even more foundational truths about my God and our relationship. I need to be reminded that what I soak up in my roots helps me react to the world around me and feeds me substance.

– I want to prune and throw away the bad parts so that I can focus on what’s important and not feel inhibited. 

– I want to remember as I’m tending them that people who love me are tending me and to love them back fiercely with that devotion. 

– Like photosynthesis, I want to use good energy to fuel me and have that process produce beneficial things for my environment. 

– My assortment of plants may all look different and need different types of tending and soil environments for best performance, but they all work together to be beautiful although they are diverse. Similarly, I want to see my strengths and weaknesses more bigger picture and know that what I have works together to do even more good collectively.  I want to remember not to judge someone for not having similar outlooks, interests, faith, or personalities, but find ways to admire them and encourage our growth and relationships.

– Like potted plants, I want to accept help when I can’t get what I need from my limited resources. Plants need fertilizer, and I need other people’s wisdom, encouragement, and experiences to help feed me. I may need coaching, programs, and therapy to help me reach my potential at different times in my life and shouldn’t be afraid of needing these resources.

I think just a few years ago I would have thought this notion was silly, but perhaps that is a sign I’ve grown. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

I’m Pro-Life, but…

I’m Pro-Life, but…

1. I understand that most women are smart enough to know abortion is not a means of birth control to be performed several times and that many do not choose abortion flippantly.

2. I understand that while medical conditions are a very small percentage, abortions do happen because of things like ectopic pregnancies…where even pro-life women need to opt for an abortion.

3. I understand that one of the reasons abortion rates have dropped is because of access to birth control (sorry, I know there’s more to hormonal birth control, I won’t touch that in this entry.)

4. I understand that places like Planned Parenthood actually DO MORE than provide abortions – they provide care for several men and women who wouldn’t have access to care otherwise and provide medical and sexual health knowledge.

5. I understand that there are cases of rape and incest where the baby is a painful reminder of something traumatic that happened. (I do believe that baby is innocent, although a product of a horrible event, and abortion robs an innocent life, even in this situation.) I understand that it must be hard to have something happen and be stuck carrying a child to full term that someone may not want.

6. I understand that relationships, age, and financial situations may not always be ideal for welcoming a child and carrying a child to full term.

7. I understand that abortion is not an easy topic to discuss and that everyone has an opinion on it.

I don’t know all these things personally, but I do understand. And that’s why I cannot support the idea of making abortion illegal and defunding Planned Parenthood. 

I suppose with everything I’ve said, you are probably wondering where I personally stand. My stance is that ideally and morally, abortions would only be performed for #2: rare medical instances where aborting the baby means saving the mothers life, where the choice is to either have both die or let one live. And my heart goes out to everyone who carries a child because of rape or incest. I truly care about their hurt but cannot deny the personhood of their child and I know that is messy and others may not agree with me. I’m sorry rape and incest happen in our world. I know that the reality of foster care and adoption is that it’s not an easy thing and that children in the system do not always have a good childhood. I care about that too. But I advocate to choose adoption instead of abortion. That is my personal view.

Here is what I think are more helpful than trying to make abortion illegal or defund PP:

1. Pro-lifers should support local pregnancy centers. Volunteer, donate, fundraise. If you are religious, pray.

2. Pro-lifers should support local maternity homes for mothers who want to keep the baby but have no place to turn to or have a home life situation that puts them in danger. Volunteer, donate, fundraise. If you are religious, pray.

3. Pro-lifers should be open to more views than just public abstinence programs and should take the shame out of premarital pregnancies. Particularly in religious homes, where children may not be educated about contraceptives and sometimes not even given full education on the reproductive system and end up pregnant. A large percentage of women getting abortions identify as catholic or protestant. I personally think some may be getting them out of shame or fear. What if parents and religious communities supported those mothers first and foremost? It’s a given that not everyone who plans to be abstinent will stay abstinent. And ignorance on sexual reproductive health does not help anyone. I believe ignorance is destructive.

4. Pro-lifers should support foster care and adoption. Not everyone may have an ideal situation to adopt or foster, but for those who can, it truly shows your commitment to owning up to what one believes. How can one advocate fostering and adoption and not be open to helping these children in some way? There is always a way to help. Donations, fundraising, taking classes to get a better understanding of the process, being mentors, advocates, volunteers…the list goes on. There is SOMETHING each one of us can do to help the lives of these babies, kids, and teens.

5. Work on things on a personal, community, and state level. That has the most impact. Your voice may only be a whisper on the nationwide level, but in your own city? It can really be powerful and echo throughout the area. And on a one-to-one level? You could save a life or help support someone with a life-changing decision.

There was once a time when abortion was illegal, and when women had very little reproductive rights. I care enough about women as a whole to not want the horrors of that time repeated. I think we need to redefine what is acceptable without making abortion illegal. It’s a hot buzzword during election season – abortion and Planned Parenthood. People may not agree with my stance, but I think we can all agree seeing abortion and teen pregnancy percentages drop is something both pro-life and pro-choice can celebrate together. And we can agree that supporting pregnant women, reproductive/sexual health education, and our local community make a difference.