It’s the Little Things

Some days the only way to get through is to focus on the little things.

Every morning, I curl up on my couch with my breakfast and an cup of coffee. The house is usually quiet, the husband still asleep. The sound of cars flying by outside the window, people on their way to the jobs or to drop the kids off. Sometimes, the sun shines through my windows, some days are cloudy.

This small, simple day starting activity brings me peace in the mornings. Calm before the storm.

There are usually other little things through out the day. Today it was a cup of coffee from Biggby on my way in to work. A note in my mail box at work on a blue post-it. Really good left overs for lunch. A hard workout at the gym, leaving me feeling sore already after. Making a kick-ass dinner from whatever I could scrape together from the pantry and fridge.

Not all of these things seem all that important. Yeah, I had another cup of coffee. So I went to the gym, not unusual for a Thursday. But look at them individually and you’ll find all of the things that bring me joy.

Peace, coffee, friends/colleagues (one and the same where I work), home made food, endorphin-inducing exercise, and cooking. Little things, part of a bigger picture.

Sometimes it’s easy to let life squish you. Splat like a bug. To let it over take you and make you feel stressed or angry or sad.

I used to be a sad person working at a job I hated, and letting that make me feel miserable. Every. Single. Day. I’ve been told more than once that I am a different person now.

I try to choose joy. Life is always going to be hard. Not everything is going to go right. But when the world tries to squish you – try to focus on the little things, and let them bring the happiness back into your life.

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Words, Words, Words

Via theawkwardyeti.com

Via theawkwardyeti.com

Maybe it’s just today. Maybe it’s that I’m tired. But I have been staring at this page for about half an hour now. Words come and go. But none of them seem to mean much. Nothing that I think I have to say seems particularly interesting today.

The weather was lovely. Don’t we always fall back on weather as small talk when we’ve not much to say?

It’s not a lie. It was nice. Peculiar for a Fall day in October in Michigan. I got to walk the dog. He seemed to particularly enjoy it. Trotting along, sniffing whatever he pleased.

I did a hurricane circuit. Sprints, sprints, more sprints, and some exercises in between.

And then a track workout this evening. Making up for Nope yesterday.

When I worked at the factory and was feeling uninspired, one of the quality engineers used to tell me that I didn’t have enough angst in my life to write. He was wrong. That place and that job caused me plenty of angst.

It was just his way of teasing. And that was the time when I wrote the least. So clearly angst doesn’t lead to words or ideas. Not in this case.

Anyway. Someday soon I will have good words for you again. Something flowery. Something well written. But tonight is not that night.

Tonight I leave you with this attempt. There are words here. Though they be but few.

A day of Nope.

It’s not often that I get the opportunity to spend half of my day at home. Between work, chores, errands and working out, around 80% of my time is spent elsewhere.

I’m okay with this. I’m good at being busy. I’m good at getting stuff done. Checking things off the list is one of my specialties. Very rarely do I just sit.

But today I sat.

I did not run. I did not go to the gym. I did go to work. But afterward I did nothing.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw on our huddle chart that someone had talked about taking care of yourself. I was not there that morning, but it did start me thinking.

I am self sacrificing to a T. I will do almost anything for anyone (within reason). This is one of my greatest attributes, and also one of my greatest flaws. It means that I often put myself aside. I’m not saying this to brag, but stating it as fact. I know it is one of the best and worst things about me. I don’t often say no.

It’s easy to take care of others. It’s not so easy to take care of one’s self.

So today I reveled in it – the opportunity to just be. To sit on the couch. To read a book. To not answer e-mails. To not be so connected with the internet world.

Tomorrow I will be back to the usual running around. To the cleaning, and shopping, and running, and doing.

But today was a much needed day of “nope.”

22 Miles of Fun

Or maybe it wasn’t all that fun. In any case, today’s 22 mile run was brought to you by perseverance.

It was a gray, dreary day. I got misted on for the first couple of miles. This is the first time I have ever done this long of a run, outside of a race, alone. Things are going to be so different training on my own now that I can’t really do long runs with the group. It was different, but not so bad. Three hours and almost 30 minutes is a long time to think about life. And I think that it adds to the mental toughness bit of running a marathon, too.

The things I actually remember:

Oh Look, caterpillars. Black and brown fuzzy ones. I remember naming them last year when running Grand Rapids Marathon. There were lots on the sidewalks then. There were fewer today.

It sucks to live on top of a hill. Especially when your strategy to complete a run is to do loops or out and back routes from your house. You always have to finish each segment up hill.

I can push the pace faster.

Okay, I can’t push the pace faster.

Am I ever going to make my time goal? If I can’t even do this now, how can I do it in a few weeks?

I can do this. I can run 9:00 miles. I can run 8:50 minute miles.

I’m ready to be done training. I just have to get through this run. This is it. I can do this.

Just keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. Just go. Pace doesn’t matter. Just finish it.

— — —

There’s a lot of Self Talk that goes in to a run that long. And a lot of singing and dancing and looking like a dork while running.

I’m glad to be done with the long miles, to be honest.

Just three weeks remain between me and the Marine Corps Marathon. And despite the fact that for at least part of this run I did not feel confident, I decided after today that I can get there. It might hurt (likely), it might kill me (not likely), but I am sure as heck going to try to make my goal.

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Lit. Heroes – Stepping Up On My Soap Box

A non-running related post. Because it’s something that I think is important.

When I was first looking for a job after my husband and I moved down here, I got involved in a volunteer program through the local library called Literacy Heroes. Volunteers were trained on active reading, and connecting kids to books that were being read to them. The coordinator for the program contacted local schools and organizations and sent us out in to the community to do something so simple, yet so vital – read to children.

Often these were kids who were struggling in school, who had no desire to read on their own, or who had never really been connected to a book.

Growing up I used to love to be read to. My mother would sit with my brother and I every night and read us stories. Often we would pick the same books, which I’m sure would just drive her crazy since we had dozens to choose from. I remember being curled up in the corner of my brother’s room, me on one side of our mother, and brother on the other side, listening to her read “The Cat in the Hat” or “Boom Chicka Boom Boom” or “Little Bear”. I can’t imagine not having that experience. Not having someone there to read to us. Or eventually, not wanting to read.

But that is the life of some of the kids we worked with.

I digress. The reason I am expounding upon this is this: Today, as I finally opened an e-mail account that I don’t often open, I received a message that the library was no longer able to sustain this program. That the training and tracking and finding volunteer opportunities were now outside of the realm of what the library can afford.

We live in a society where we fund prisons and wars. We throw money into politics and business.

But we don’t place value on education. Or if we do, we’ve got a funny way of showing it. We gut programs that could help others. Take funding away from music and art. We test and we test and we test, but we take creativity from the classroom.

We begin to ignore those who fall behind.

Literacy Heroes was one of those programs that focused on the ones who fall through the cracks. It focused on making reading fun and bringing books to life. It gave attention to those who often get none. To hear that it’s gone is most definitely a blow. It’s a shame to see opportunities like this disappear.

Maybe some day we will realize what is important – what is worth putting money in to.

For now I will step down off my soap box, and be grateful that I was able to be a part of this program while it existed. I got to spend time with children who sometimes just wanted someone to pay attention to them, and I got to do so while reading really awesome and fun books to them.

Fennvalley Vine Wine’d 5k

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I am not a sprinter, and I think 5k races are too short. No time to warm up, it’s just an all out run run run for 3 miles.

That being said, I enjoyed the race I ran today, despite thinking, at about mile 1.5, that I hate 5k’s.

It was a cold, windy day that felt more like November than October 3rd. It’s almost like we went from August to November weather wise. At the very least, the rain held off.

This was a trail run – another thing I am not usually is a trail runner. Give me a good solid surface beneath my feet any day and I’m a happy kid. Trails can be a nice change of pace, but they are also a challenge.

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I got to start the run with my dad – also not a trail runner…or usually a runner at all. In fact, his statement to me at the beginning was “this is probably the only 3 miles I’ll run this year.” Though he does have nearly 5,000 miles on his bike.

We started uphill, and the comment made a mile .04 after running up it was, “Are we done yet?” I think he wanted to steal a bike.

We wound through the vineyard, full of beautiful, ripe grapes, and through the surrounding fields and forest. The scenery was lovely at least, though some sunshine would have been appreciated.

I finished in 26:39 (according to my watch, I can’t find the official results posted anywhere right now). Which was good enough for a 3rd place age group finish. I’ve never placed in my age group anywhere. I’m a pretty solid middle of the pack person. Most in my age group are more competitive than me. So it was a treat to see that 3 next to my name.

And then of course, the wine came after. How can you not drink wine after a run called the Vine Wine’d?! So we did.

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This is a race that I would love to do again next year. Maybe it will be less windy next time around.

October: A month of goals and challenges

October has arrived, and with it cooler temperatures.

September was a very long, strange, busy month involving much running, much working, and not much else.

It was a month of 40+ hour weeks, long, long runs, and a lack of motivation to get anything other than those two things done.

I had a disappointing half-marathon the last weekend of September – but got to watch many others succeed at their goals. It’s a double edged sword – I am disappointed in my own performance, but so, so proud of and happy for others’ achievements.

But now October has bloomed. It has brought crisp leaves, and crisp days. Fall is in the air, and with it comes Marathon season. I have one more very long run left for this training cycle and then it’s time for a break.

Grand Rapids is soon – the marathon for which my group has been training for nearly 18 weeks now. I’m excited to watch this year. It will be the first time I haven’t run it since I started running.

A week later is Marine Corps. I have a goal. I’m afraid to speak it. It’s the same goal I’ve been chasing since I started running marathons. I might make it if I don’t fall apart like I did in my September half. The stars have to align. The heavens have to sing. Maybe then it’ll go right.

My goal is to not let my training fall apart in these last few weeks. To actually achieve what I set out to, I have to keep at the training.

It’s different now. I don’t so much get to train with the group any longer – as now I am in charge of it. I have a fancy title and a desk and everything and it’s all very exciting, but I’m going to miss actually running with them. It’s going to be a grand new adventure, but it will be a challenge as well.

My goal is to inspire others to move. To keep moving myself. To lead an active and healthy life. To be strong, to be fit.

I’m such a goal oriented person. Driven by what has to be accomplished. By planning. By having a plan.

My goal is to write here daily once again. Starting today. I missed the first day of October already. But I do not write enough anymore. I fell apart again after our 30 day challenge.

So. Here it goes again. Continuing to run. Continuing to write. Continuing to hope to inspire.

Keep Moving.