Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving Day

I have a bit of insomnia AND my buddy has no concept of time. When Dukie has to go out, he has to go out!!! So, this morning, I crawled out of bed and danced outside in my PJs begging Dukie to hurry up so we could get back into the warmth.

We got inside and then it occurred to me; it is Thanksgiving morning!!! YIPPEE!!! Turkey and Brussel Sprouts and Stuffing, OH MY!!!!!!! I get way more excited on Thanksgiving than I do on any other holiday.
You see, this is my favorite holiday, and here is why...

It isn't about gifts and galore, but instead about sharing a ridiculously large and DELIGHTFULLY DELICIOUS meal with your family and friends.

So, what am I thankful for you may ask? I think I have been pretty clear on my blog over the past several months, but here is a quick run down:

My Family - Always appropriately entertaining and overly involved at all the right times.

My Friends - This year hasn't been easy but man do I have some solid people in my life. Special shout out to those who have put up with both my endless tears and my bad jokes.

My Dog - Yeah, OK so he woke me up at like 4:00 on Thanksgiving morning to go out, but he also puts joy into every day.

My House - I love the endless project that is my house. It makes me comfortable and warm.

Couches - The only place I have found solid sleep over the last month and a half. Friend's couches, mom's couch, my couch... LOVE THEM!!!!!

My Job - If you can believe it, there is a person on this planet who loves their job... This girl. Sure, I complain about stuff, rightfully so, but to make a difference in another person's life on a daily basis (even if indirect) is a gift.

My Athleticism - So I may have struggled this year, but it has been through those struggles that I have learned a ton about myself, oh and I built some relationships with some pretty awesome people too.

This list could continue, and maybe it will tomorrow, but the fact of the matter is that my life is blessed. It doesn't matter how tough things get, approaching each day with a smile and gratitude opens my eyes to the beauty of all things life has to offer.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where's the Balance?

Whoa, I swear I only had one glass of wine. Have you ever had to say that because suddenly you were off balance and couldn't seem to stand up straight? I know I have, on several occasions actually.

In life, there are moments where things may seem off balance. There are some theories that include a triangle, each point, or side, of the triangle represents something in life. I honestly don't recall, at all, what those points include but some theorists (if I'm remembering correctly) say that we are all striving for balance but one of the sides of the triangle will always be a little shorter than the other.

I'm always seeking balance, even in my athleticism, which is likely why I gravitated to triathlons in the very beginning. It gave me something different to work on every day and taught me that by working on every sport, your race would be better.

Now let's take racing out the the equation. Yes, I love the start line of a race, and even more I love the finish line, but what about the fun of it all? Here is where the balance comes into play... I am planning on this very fun half marathon in the spring, but the reason I am looking forward to it has little to do with the start and finish line. I'm excited about the journey to get to the start, that will also hopefully carry me through the finish. But more importantly, I am excited for the adventure surrounding that race. Think waterfalls, wine, greenery, parks, a little history... Oh yeah, and training of course! This race is about finding the balance and the fun in racing again.

Now, let's take it a little further re: balance. I used to want to be a faster runner. I would have loved to be able to say I was a 10 minute miler, but every time I have gotten faster I have crashed into a wall of injury. Perhaps that was always my body telling me to find the balance, continue loving what you are doing and enjoy the activity for what it is.

Recently, I was feeling slightly down about what I have NOT accomplished this year. Only one half marathon, one 10 miler, one half ironman, two 5 milers, one 4 miler and a 5k soonish. To some people, that may look like a pretty hefty race calendar, but when you are surrounded by the super athlete, that short list can make any person feel unaccomplished. To remember what I have accomplished, I took a moment to look back and regain my footing. This summer alone there were hundreds of miles of cycling (upwards of 600 miles), and hundreds of miles of running. Why am I feeling off balance? Because I am basing my perspective on others...

So here is what I challenge you to do, next time you find yourself feeling off balance from a small shift in behavior, a drink, a run, I'd encourage you to take a look around and evaluate what is important and WHY it is important. It could be that you need to stretch out of your comfort zone to find a new balance, or readjust and find the correct footing for you again. Or it could be that you are basing your balance on some one else's definition of success.

For now, I'm going to enjoy my unsteady feet and keep blaming it on that glass of wine, because it is stretching me to remember what running is for me... A little exercise, relationships, the beauty of the trail and the fun with my friends.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Dukie

Dukie, not to be confused with dookie, is my dog. He isn't just a dog, but rather the best dog!

When Dukie took over my world we ended up being fast friends. He was here for less than two weeks when a terrible storm rolled through town and Dukie was in my bed, laying right on top of me in seconds flat after the clap of the loudest thunder. I laid there and pet him as he was shivering in fear and I knew he found the right home. After that night Dukie got comfortable taking over my bed and life and, now, literally follows me around the house from the moment I wake up, until I go to bed. He is a tripping hazard, but one I would NEVER trade. He makes me happy and loves me in a way that no human could ever love another person.

I should mention how Dukie came to be with me. Dukie was my nephews' dog and when my sister's family moved to the United Arab Emirates, Dukie needed a new home. I could not have this guy go to a stranger and so he moved 1,300 miles to his retirement home. He has been my buddy for six years at this point, although I have known him for thirteen.

A few years ago, Dukie and I were at my parent's house (also known as Dukie's grandparents house) to visit my nephews' and niece, who were in town for the summer from the UAE, I was walking around talking about my dog and I noticed one of my nephews crying on the back porch. I went and sat down next to him and asked him what was wrong. My nephew told me that "Dukie is NOT your dog, he is my dog, and he is going to live with me when I come home from the UAE." I instantly looked around for parent backup because at that point, Dukie and I had a bond that was/is undeniable and there was NO way I would ever let him leave my side. No parents were in sight so I had to tell my nephew that Dukie was absolutely his dog and will forever be his dog, but is now happily in his retirement home and was going to stay with me. I should mention that this was a selfish statement at the time, but I honestly don't think Dukie could have handled another big move, but selfishly, I couldn't bear the thought of my life without Dukie.

Dukie and I have been on road trips together, we have cried together, we have been mad at each other, but at the end of the day we really LOVE each other. My human friends are amazing, and I have never felt as much love from my friends as I have this summer. The thing is, like some friend become your family, Dukie also is my family!!!

He is my contstant, my peace, my companion and my best friend. Thank you Dukie for putting your head on my shoulder every time I cry, giving me a laugh and teaching me the finer points of unconditional love. It is because of this little man/pup that I have been able to build and maintain some of the best friendships of my life. All because of a dog!!!

Here is a picture diary of some of my favorite moments with Dukie. I have been blessed to have him in my life for six years, and I truly hope there are more years to come!!!
Like a kid, always needs to be in the picture. 

Dukie at the beach.
Dukie relieving himself on federal property. 
Dukie at the Trail of Tears.
Dukie at the Indian Mounds.
The Hawaiian Dog!!!
Pure Love!
Dukie frolicking. 
The exhausted dog!
Dukie with his REAL pals.
Cold Dukie!

Snow Storm
Big Road Trip, Missouri
Dukie at my Marathon
Dukie after the terrible attack
The distinguished dog in Oklahoma
Getting ready to road trip. 
Helping with the poster party!
The best travel companion!

Me and Dukie.

Camping 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday: My Dad

I am kind of a needy person. Ask the people I am closest with and you will hear that I text incessantly, call a lot and have lots of opinions. I hope that they would also say that I listen well, treat them with respect and love them unconditionally. I think I do, and I had to have learned that from someone. Right?

Yep, my dad...

Growing up, my dad was always around. He is the guy who always told me the truth, even when it hurt. Case in point... When I was young, maybe five or six, I walked down to the basement of the house, where my dad was slaving away making me my Christmas present. I had heard rumors that Santa Clause didn't exist but I didn't want to believe it. Being the youngest child has its disadvantages. Anyway, he was building a doll house for me... I asked him if Santa Clause was real, to which he replied with a very careful no. I cried...

Fast forward twenty some odd years, I called my dad just to chit chat, and the call swiftly turned into finances, he is an accountant you see AND a very smart one. People go to him for advice because he is careful with his words and honest with his intentions. We started to talk about health coverage, cafeteria plans, health savings accounts, saving for the future, and on and on and on... The conversation had a spin that would be hard to explain right now, but the fact is that we talked about some hard stuff. At this point in my life my dad strives to be supportive of my decisions without telling me what to do, I just wanted him to tell me I was making the right decisions. I asked him pointedly and he told me the honest truth. This time it didn't hurt because I felt as though I was mostly right and he validated that.

Anyway, back to Santa Clause... Later in life I asked my dad why he told me the truth about Santa Clause (obviously I still remember it) and he told me it was because he wanted me to always trust him. He could have fed into the fantasy that seemingly EVERY parent wants to protect for their child, but instead considered his long term relationship with me when he broke my heart at the time.

The way my dad loves me and treats me is a testament to the kind of man he is and the kind of people I choose to engage with on this journey called life. He taught me about character and how to love unconditionally (I should tell you about some of my screw ups in life to illustrate this point, but this post can only go on so long), he taught me that everyone has a purpose and that everyone deserves kindness, even if they don't show you the same. He taught me that relationships are about more than no liking someone because they have a different opinion that yourself.

I am blessed every time he answers the phone, or sits on the couch talking to me, or sits across the dinner table for hours telling me the same story he told me 100 times already; and you know what? I still sit and listen to all those stories, even on the 100th version, because I know my dad has a purpose for sharing (even if is only for a laugh).

Anyway, similar to the post I wrote for my mom on Mother's Day, I will say this, I have the best dad in the world, the best parents really... My dad truly is the best for me because he knows how to be gentle with my heart yet very honest even when it is hard to hear.

So, thank you dad for teaching me how to live with integrity and an abundance of love. It is because of you (and mom) that I know how to be kind (most of the time) and pick people to share my life with who are almost as wonderful as you...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Consistency = Friend

The past couple of weekends, I have had the honor/pleasure of helping a friend with a pretty big house project... I'm not going to go into details but like any house project,  the endless trips to Home Depot, the staring at the project, the researching and the labor are tiring, but 100% pleasurable when you can laugh along the way!!! So, who cares, right? Well, I have officially decided that housework is a workout. I used to think it was lame when people would use cleaning their house for weight watchers exercise points. Here is the thing, if it is out of your normal routine, those simple tasks really can be a workout.

So, here I am, week 2 of this awesome project... And knowing there will be more in the future, I am ecstatic about the benefits I have reaped as a result of this project.

Here are the details of my life... Over the past several weeks, I quickly gained 17 pounds because I was sick and had to take some medicine that contributed to that weight gain.

You know what has contributed to shedding it just as quickly? Drinking a TON of water, running very consistently AND house projects...

In regards to the consistency, the more you do these projects, the easier they get. It is like endurance with running. I sure am tired, but I could keep going because I have consistently been increasing my effort. Do I want a break? Absolutely, why do you think I am blogging right now... So I can sit down for a few minutes...

But this project has really made me reflect on my running. You all know that I have been struggling this summer. I can honestly say the struggle is subsiding. I have been VERY consistent with my running and pushing myself through those hard times. Because I have been consistent, I have had significant progress in my running and am beginning to love the workout again. What I am here to tell you (which you probably already know) is that consistency really is your friend. If you nurture your running, like nurturing a friendship, you will have enormous gains and those gains are always worth it...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Modern Medicine

Welcome to the first edition of Thankful Thursday.

I would like to first address all of you folks who think I am being thankful ONLY because it is November, and well, what do you do in November? Be thankful. Well I can tell you that is not the case. I am thankful every day I wake up, every day I take my first step in the morning because it means I am alive!!! I am thankful every day, the thing is, I don't tell people every day. I do believe I am fairly good at letting people know that I am thankful for them. If you haven't felt the love from me recently, well tell me. Furthermore, after discussing this with friends the other night, I can tell you that I love that people are blowing up facebook and other social media sources with their thankful posts daily, simply because I know people are thankful but don't always take the time to express their thanks. What I would say is this... I challenge you to continue your thankful posts and continue to tell people you are thankful throughout the year...

Anyway, on to the real point of today's thankful post...

I watch this TV show called Blacklist. It is a fascinating show, and more appealing to me now because my dad watches it too. It gives us something to text about and chat about while playing Words With Friends. Honestly, I could probably write a thankful post about Blacklist or Words With Friends, but I'll save that for another day.

In the most recent episode of Blacklist, there was a man who was infecting random populations with a very rare disease to raise awareness about the disease and to help him find a cure for the disease. Now this may seem silly, but the reality is, this crazy guy had a VERY good point... Rare diseases are less likely to have cures because the profitability of finding a cure is minimal.

This is where I have to remind myself that it is JUST a TV show, but sometimes my friends and I talk about TV show characters as if they are our best friends... But I digress, the true point is this... Diseases like cancer, especially breast cancer, are more curable today because of research that has been done and modern medicine. I know so many people who have survived breast cancer because of modern medicine.

Now do I wish we could cure everything naturally? Do I wish we could eat healthfully and cure ourselves? Of course; and we can participate in preventative measures to decrease the risk of various diseases, and perhaps even cure some diseases with all natural methods, but let's face it. I know people who have died from diseases because they chose to only use the natural cures. I am not criticizing that method, especially because it is the right course of action for some, but am instead celebrating a method that has saved so many lives.

So if you have a family member who has survived cancer, can still walk even though they have MS, have the chance of living a full life despite having HIV, can ride a bike now because they have new knees, feels better because their depression is at bay... You also have something to be thankful for, and my guess is it is Modern Medicine. I sure am thankful that so many people are blessed with a better quality of life because people are passionate enough and doing the research, while other people are funding said research to save a life!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday

For the month of November I am going to do, what I am calling, a 'Thankful Thursday' post. That means you can watch for two posts a week from me, for this month only. After all, I'm so tired right now, that I literally have no energy to do anything but tell you I am creating more work for myself for the remainder of the month? Okay, that doesn't make much sense, but it is the least I can do to express my gratitude for everything that swirls around me on a daily basis.

To kick this off for the month, I'll start with a thankful post about my weekend...

Yep, you heard me right, I am thankful for my weekend that included painting, raking, sanding, shopping, running, laundry, sandwiches, diet coke and rededicating myself to begin the process of giving up one of my vices.

And now I'm tired and am for once going to keep this short.

Here is a song that I found myself singing while thinking about 'Thankful Thursday'. My favorite lyrics: How about me enjoying the moment for once. I can tell you, the reason I have loved this summer so much is that I have taken the time to enjoy EVERY moment, as evidence my me enjoying this busy weekend so much.