Sunday, September 9, 2012

Little Flutters

I've had this post brewing in me for a couple of months now, and for some reason it just wouldn't come out. I have no idea why.

I'm having a baby.

To be more specific, I'm having a baby girl. Lucy.

As I type this, she is nestled snugly under my navel, and every now and then I can feel her twitch, or kick, or roll over or flutter. Today, for the first time, I felt her kick from the outside, which is both magical and scary considering I'm barely over half way to her due date.

It's all a really big deal. Of course, all babies are a really big deal. Miracles. But to me, this baby is the biggest kind of really big deal. She represents a lot of really great things in my life: love, healing, fullness, joy, peace, contentment, and arrival. That's probably a lot of expectation to put on a 1 pound fetus.

A few years back I had a different baby in my belly, and I placed a lot of expectation on him too. But the unfortunate truth is that the expectations were completely different. With him I saw desperation, fear, longing, and survival. My desire at that point in my life was for that sweet, innocent baby to fix things. Again, a hopelessly unrealistic list of things to hope for from someone who had yet to see the light of day.

The truth is that as quickly as E was growing inside of me, my marriage at the time was just as quickly breaking down into unrecognizable bits of life that scared the hell out of me. The months leading up to his birth, and the first few months that followed should have been joyful and exciting. Instead, with the exception of getting an amazing kid out of the deal, they remain a part of the saddest and most disappointing time in my life.

Now, almost 6 years later, I know a few things to be true. And here they are:

That kid, the one that was born in the darkest part of my life, is the biggest source of light in my world. He didn't fix any of the things that I thought he would, and yet he has fixed everything in me that I didn't realize was broken. I am a better person because he walked into my life, and I am healed all over again every time he walks into the room.

This kid, the one that is lazily napping under my ribs, is my 'full circle'. She is a chance to get it right, and a chance to experience the precious moments of pregnancy in the light instead of the dark. I have full confidence that she will deliriously complicate my life in the way that only a fitful newborn can. And I firmly believe that her very presence in my world will shift it on its axis, and I will be yet again, a new woman because of her. I can't wait.

I have a kick ass husband. Because of his daily presence in my life I know exactly two things: 1. There absolutely is a God. and 2. That that God gracefully and mercifully loves me. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a husband like that.

Time heals a big fat bowl of nothing. In and of itself, time will tick by and tick you off. Had I just sat there in the last 6 years of all that vast obnoxious time, I would have ended up a hateful, bitter wad of a woman. The key is doing something with the time. I cried a whole big bunch. I moved. I went to school. I dated stupidly, I graduated, I began a career, I fell in love, and I prayed, searched for, and found forgiveness and healing. Life got better, not because time went by, but because I chose a better life.

Every little kick from my baby girl reminds me to be thankful that I'm not who I was and I'm not who I'm going to be. I'm learning that a really good life isn't made of milestone moments, but by embracing the tiny fits and flutters.

I'm finally loving them all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sharing Shoes

"Maybe someday I'll understand why it happened that way. But I guess God knows what He's doing."

Perhaps you've said something similar. I've uttered this phrase many times, usually with very little expectation of ever actually figuring out why certain things happened or why things went the way they did. I'm usually fairly resolved to never having a clue about what God is doing, and I'm more ok with that than I used to be. But over the last couple of days, it's as if God has pulled back the curtain on certain times in my life, and given me a fuller view of the "why." 

I've never written a whole lot about my second marriage, mainly because I'd prefer to pretend it never happened. And in social situations, I avoid talking about it, because I'd rather people that don't know, NEVER know. If I had it my way, I would erase that entire year. Nothing good happened in those months. 

But then my phone rang yesterday, and God set events in motion that have changed my heart. It was around lunch time. I received a phone call to assist with an "emergency" involving a young woman and her two kids in an abuse situation. As I drove to meet with her, I tried to prepare myself for what I might find. The goal was to be the best counselor I could be. 

But as I sat across from her and listened to her story peppered with abuse in various forms, I found myself sucked back in time. When she told me how she would get in trouble for breathing wrong, using her fork the wrong way, or hugging her kids too much, I found myself transported to my old living room, where someone was lashing out at me for drying the laundry on the wrong setting, for cleaning the dishes the wrong way, or for folding towels a different way than he thought they should be folded. I remembered being called a "f*cking c*nt" when I crossed some invisible boundary that I wasn't even aware existed, and listening to him call my innocent three year old horribly cruel names for wetting the bed. As this woman shared her story and her fears, I unexpectedly found myself sharing her shoes. 

The thing about abuse that most outsiders don't understand is the quick and consuming battle between the healthy and sick parts of you. The sickness that causes the abuser to fall into the perilous abuse cycle is wildly contagious. It latches onto your soft spots, the vulnerable places that ache for healing, and very quietly begins to turn clarity into confusion. It jumbles together your insecurities, your discontentment, and your deepest desires into a tangled mess of unfulfilled longing, and then confusion is all that remains. After extended exposure to this toxicity, it's easy to buy into the belief that "this time he'll change." Abusers are the best at apologies. They have no trouble saying they were wrong, that they shouldn't have threatened you, shouldn't have thrown things. They simply shouldn't have lost control. But they did, and they are sorry. And they are crying over their mistakes. And they are begging for forgiveness. And they are promising that it will never EVER happen again. An abuser will remind you at the beginning of the hour that the military taught him to kill you with his bare hands, and at the end of the hour hold those same hands up to Jesus and in tears of brokenness ask you to pray with him for the healing of your marriage. 

And you do it, because confusion tells you to be committed to your marriage. Confusion tells you to have hope. Confusion tells you that he can be different. Confusion tells you to give him another chance. That he loves you. That it will get better. That it will change. You do it, because now you are sick too. 

Regardless of what type of abuse is taking place, the cycle is difficult to step out of. In fact, statistically, it takes roughly 8 attempts to step outside of the cycle, before the abused is able to finally walk away. Miraculously, it only took me two. As I gathered up this mom and her two kids this morning, it occurred to me that I'm not certain what number attempt this is for her. I know it's not her first. I'm praying that it's the last, but only time will tell. 

I've never understood how or why I got myself into that sick second marriage. Looking back, it was idiocy from the very beginning. But I know at some point, his sickness jumped onto me, and I got sick too. And when he wanted the dishes done, I did them. When he wanted a new vehicle, I bought it. And when he wanted to pray, I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed. 

And then, when I removed myself from his sickness, God restored my life to a wholeness that I had never known. And He continues to work all things together for the GOOD. And he continues to absolutely blow. me. away with his mercies. 

I've never understood the why. But this morning, as I sat with this mom and we acknowledged the multiple parallels in our lives, she looked at me and said, "I'm so thankful that God put you in my life. When I look at you, knowing your story, I just see hope." 

And just that quickly God pulled back the curtain on the "why." 

It was the first time in my life, that I have been able to be truly thankful for this journey. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Interview

It was bedtime last night when I decided on the spur of the moment to interview E. I had seen other moms do this sort of thing, and I was curious as to what he would say. If I was the type of mom who planned activities ahead of time I would have had a list of questions. Since I'm a slacker, I made them up as I went along. I asked him random questions, and these are his exact responses.

1. How old are you?  "5"

2. How old is Mommy? "21" (I wish.)

3. What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? "Watch a movie and sit in the chair." (It's sort of my favorite thing to do with him too!)

4. What do I do for work? "You help people with the clients." (Close enough.)

5. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do with you? "Watch Tom and Jerry and pick up treasures."

6. How do you know Mommy loves you? "You tell me and you just do."

7. What is Mommy's favorite TV show? "Walking Dead" (I have never seen this before in my life. Up until last week, we didn't even have cable, so I'm thinking this is his stepmother's favorite show.)

8. What is your favorite dinner that Mommy makes? "Steak"

9. What makes Mommy happy? "Me!" (SO TRUE!)

10. What makes Mommy sad? "When I'm not at your house." (Also true.)

11. What is Mommy most afraid of? "Bears." (???)

12. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do outside? "Play with me, Simon, Candy, and Jonathan."

13. If Mommy could do anything in the world what would it be? "Play in the rain!"

14. What is the best thing about Mommy? "When she cooks me steak!" (maybe he was hungry?)

My precious kid. I hope he eats lots of steak and always finds joy in playing in the rain. 

Disney World, May 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Losing the Battle, Winning the War???

I haven't run since Friday. I feel like poop about it.

I meant to go over the weekend, but my grandfather passed away and his funeral was this weekend. My family was all in from out of town, and I wanted to spend time with them.

Plus, we had a ton of cupcake bouquets to make for a Women's Cancer Survivor luncheon that we donated to, plus a couple of orders. It was a busy couple of days.

And my diet has just flat out sucked lately. As much as I hate to admit it, I've fallen right back into my old habits of eating what is convenient. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!

 First of all, there's all these cupcakes laying around all the time now. And then after my grandfather passed, people just kept bringing casseroles, and chips, and sandwich trays....oh! the sandwich trays! 

So I keep telling myself that I'll get back on track. 

And then this obnoxious voice who is just a tad too comfortable with wearing nothing but yoga pants yells out, "But you're trying to get pregnant! Why work that hard just to get fat anyway?"

Obviously, I get the flaw in the logic. 

So I try to talk to myself all rationally. "Work on it now, so it's easier if you do have a baby. Keep running. Take vitamins. STOP EATING CUPCAKES." 

And then Yoga Pants speaks up again,  "You're getting ready to go on vacation. Just enjoy yourself and hit it hard when you get back."  

And part of me thinks she makes good sense. Life is too short to worry about my jeans being too tight. It's summer! The season of the maxi dress, the slightly more fashionable cousin to the moo moo!

So I'm taking 4 of them on vacation with me. And I'm going to enjoy time with my family, possibly eat some crab legs, spend a day at the beach in a bathing suit not worrying about how I look, get my picture made with the coolest 5 year old on the planet and a certain popular cartoon rodent, and then scrape together some motivation to get back on track. 

I'm okay with losing the battle at the moment. 

But I ran 13.1 miles too far to let myself lose the war. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

That Time I Ran a Half Marathon

A few years ago, I was getting divorced from Ex and I had this fantasy where I conquered all things hard. Part of that fantasy was that one day I would start AND FINISH a half marathon. 

This is the story of the day that actually happened. 

My alarm went off at 4:20 this morning. I was already awake. I had to meet Emily at the Walmart parking lot at the ungodly time of 4:45AM. We were following another car of marathoners downtown where we would park at the finish line (LP Field) and then car pool over to the starting line (Centennial Park). Already I was trying to figure out what to do with my stuff. I had a wallet, a jacket, my race bag, my phone, and my car keys. I decided to leave everything in Emily's car at the finish line except for my jacket, which I abandoned in Kim's car at the start. 

Once we were at Centennial park, Emily began looking for the port a potties. She had stressed the importance of "emptying" before the race as she ran the entire thing last year with an overly full bladder. She talked about having zero modesty and holding nothing back. She made it very clear that although there were port a potties along the race route, we would not be stopping. GO NOW OR DON'T GO. I was panicking, because my Shakeology had kicked in and I REALLY HAD TO (ahem!) GO. I have spent 31 years thinking there are just certain things you NEVER do in a port a potty. Today was a day of many firsts.

After standing in line for 20 minutes to use the "bathrooms" we began making our way to our "corral." I'm going to write this like I'm talking to someone who has never run a race before, because until today, I had NO CLUE what to expect or what a race corral was. As it turns out, when the starting gun sounds, you don't all just go for broke like it looked in my fantasy. When you register you put down an estimated finish time. (I originally put 2 hours, 30 minutes.) Based on your estimated pace, they put you in a corral with other runners of a similar pace. I was originally put in corral #23. But I was planning to run with Emily who has a faster time than me, so I did a corral change to start with her. We started in Corral #17. This means there were 16 corrals of "faster" runners ahead of us. They start in waves, so even though the race started at 7AM, we didn't get to the starting line until about 25 minutes later. They give you a plastic, magnetic "chip" that you loop around your shoelace, and throughout the course there are sensors that record your time. So even though the race clock had been ticking away for a half hour, my chip was keeping my correct time. 

We made our way to the starting line, and there are people stretching, popping energy shots and jelly beans, strapping water to water belts, spitting, and readying all of their gadgets, (stop watches, phones, ipods). I had nothing, not even a tube of chapstick or a stick of gum. So I just listened to the countdown of the corrals in front of me and watched as each group took off. Then it was our turn. A rush of adrenaline washed over me as I heard the lady shout 5,4,3,2,1! And then the people in front of me started running, so I did too. 

I looked up and immediately got dizzy, as the entire horizon was FILLED with marathoners who were bobbing up and down, close together, but in no uniform fashion. The sounds of clip clopping shoes on pavement pounded my ears and the bobbing played with my inner ear a little bit, so I looked down at the ground. I focused on my breathing, and Kim, Emily, and I weaved around runners trying to find a comfortable pocket to run in. We found one, and before I knew it we had covered 3 miles. We skipped the water station at mile 3. Obviously that was for sissies. But regardless of whether or not you drank, you had to dodge a bazillion white and aqua dixie cups being thrown right onto the ground. People splash water on their faces and streams randomly pelt you in the face. Crazy. 

Around mile 4 there was a pretty steep steady hill. We were looping around a college campus near downtown. The major difference between the race route and my standard running route was the lack of shade on the race route. When I run at home, the greenway is mostly shade with a couple of big hills. The race route was uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill THE ENTIRE TIME with NO SHADE. By the 5th mile I was looking for a water station and thanking God for every little breeze that blew across my face. This is where Kim took off to run faster. (FYI, there are only 50 p90x certified trainers in the entire country. I was very aware that I was running my very first half marathon with 2 of them!) I felt a little bad that Emily (who is in amazing shape and is sort of a BEAST) was running with me. She was obviously giving up a PR (personal record) opportunity to run with me. But I was so thankful for her. We hadn't walked any up to this point, and I probably would have taken a walking break had I been on my own. 

Miles 6, 7, and 8 were about the same. I kept running with no breaks other than a quick walk through a water station (so I'm a bit of a sissy now), and I kept thanking God for the small breezes that I found along the way. I was enjoying the bursts of music from the sidelines and there were some great motivational signs being waved by supporters. Some of them were there for specific runners, but some of them were just there (sitting in lawn chairs and drinking beer and mimosas!) to watch the fun. In my mind, they were all cheering for me. 

Some of my favorites were "Worst Parade EVER!" and "This isn't sweat, it's liquid AWESOME." 

And then mile 9 happened. I have no clue what it was about this mile that got me. Maybe it was the uphill, downhill, uphill, part. Maybe it was the steady sun, no shade part. But I was feeling every inch of my body by mile 9, and I began craving water stations like they were crack. I took my first walking break in this mile, maybe a tenth of a mile or 2. I'm not sure how long, but I started running again. 

Every mile from mile 9 to the finish line was tough. Call me a sissy if you want, but my butt ran through EVERY water station after that. I was looking for any way to cool off and sneak in a walking break. Emily was a champ and stayed with me. I apologized every time I slowed down, because I'm sure she was ready to pick me up and carry me at that point! I was so thankful she was there. It was during this mile that she nudged me and said, "Look at that sign!" Some guy was waving a piece of white poster board with the words, "YOU ARE A BIG DEAL" on it. Next to him a sign said, "If it was easy everyone would do it." Emily looked at me and said, "See, you are a BIG DEAL! Keep going!" So I did. We made it to mile 10, then 11, then 12. I was losing my grip at that point, so ready to be done. The most I've run up to the race was 10 miles, and I pretty much walked every 5th minute of that. I had never RUN this far. And holy cow, my body was reminding me of that. 

This is where I should remind you of my little running a marathon fantasy. I used to imagine myself conquering the race, only I'm obviously delusional. You see, in my fantasy, I'm running (effortlessly, of course) and approaching the finish line. Things are nice and calm, and I look ahead to see my entire family cheering me on. They are standing in the middle of a nice quiet road, a few spectators standing on the sidelines, and my family is waving a banner wildly that says my name. My husband and son are waiting for me at the end. "YAY MOMMY!" they shout. They are so proud. Then, I run faster, straight to them, scoop up my son in my arms, (swell of soundtrack here) and my husband bear hugs us happily. 

Obviously, I'm nuts. 

I spent the hard miles trying to wrap my brain around the finish line. It still seemed SO FAR away, and I knew my husband would be there, but in all of the craziness, I had ZERO expectation of actually being able to find him. I tried not to worry about how I would get in touch with him after the race as I had no phone. And because neither of us knew what to expect, we had no game plan to find each other. This wasn't my calm little "Sara is the only runner in the world" fantasy. This was the Country Music Marathon and THOUSANDS of people run it each year. Thousands more come downtown to watch it, and thousands more are associated with assisting. I just knew there was no was he would actually see me finish. I expected it would take me a good solid hour afterwards to even find him. And I was sort of afraid he would have driven all the way downtown for nothing. 

Then, we rounded a curve and I was pulled back into the moment. The full marathoners (crazies) ran left. The halfers ran right. We were SO CLOSE. We ran over the bridge leading to the stadium. I was losing every ounce of will power I had to keep going. 

But God knows exactly what I need. Throughout the whole race, whenever I was too hot, He would send a stiff breeze to cool my face. Whenever I was parched, He sent a water station. Whenever I wanted to quit, I looked up and saw that He had sent Emily. 

And as I crossed the bridge, just in sight of the 13th mile marker, He sent me The Champ. I looked over at the sideline, and there he was, just smiling. Our eyes met, he yelled something encouraging (I don't even know what) and I started crying. And running faster. And then hyperventilating a bit. I needed to see his face so badly in that moment, and God loves me, so he parted the thousands to let me see it. 

We rounded one last curve, I got a grip on my breathing, and I could see the FINISH LINE. At that point, I UNLEASHED some hidden burst of energy and RAN across that finish line like an African Olympian! 

I DID IT!!!!

I got my medal, and they started handing us water and gatorade. It took a LONG time to find Jonathan after that, and a LONG TIME to get to the car to come home. I was pretty discouraged by my finish time at first. I glanced at the race clock as I sprinted across the finish line and it said 2:53:39. I was upset that it took me nearly 3 hours to finish. But I reminded myself that finishing was my ultimate goal. Then, after I got home, showered, and napped, I looked at my results. I had forgotten that the CLOCK time and the CHIP time are different. The clock started with that first corral, so my ACTUAL RACE TIME was 2:26:38!!!!! My goal was to finish in under 2:30, and I DID IT!!! 

I ran the race with a pace of 11:12 minute miles. 

I am SO thankful that Emily ran with me. If ever you need to know what a great friend is, just look to the person who is sacrificing her race time to see you cross the finish line. LOVE HER. 

When I got home, I had a BabyCakes order to fill. There are some leftovers, so this is probably true. 

God always knows just what I need. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Challenge

I've never been one to run away from a challenge. (Get bored with it and quit, yes. But run away from one, never!)

It seems as if that's a theme in my life this week.

We started BabyCakes, something I'm referring to as "an adventure," and literally within 36 hours we were having to email back and forth to make sure we had all of the orders straight and covered. CRAZY CUPCAKING GOING ON. The entire month of May, my free time will be spent in front of my oven looking for the elusive 10 second window known as "the perfect cupcake."

One of our orders was for a gluten free, sugar free cupcake. Talk about a challenge! How do you make a cupcake, a dessert made of flour and sugar, that is not made of flour and sugar?!?! I spent at least an hour in the baking aisle of whole foods trying to figure out the answer to that question. Then, this weekend, I practiced the recipe, tweaked it, and churned out this little number:

It's gluten free, sugar free, and sort of fabulous.

I'm officially in love with the cupcake bouquet. I've decided that Amber will be Head of Flavor Development, and I'll just sit around and stab cupcakes onto a Styrofoam ball. It makes me happy.

Also this week, I got to sit in on our first "E Team" dinner. This is a dinner consisting of all 4 co-parents of my child. We've never done this. Until recently, we avoided interaction unless absolutely necessary, but I guess God had other plans. Now we are planning regular game nights in order to present a united front. This particular dinner came about because E had raised questions about sex and divorce, topics that are difficult to understand at 31, let alone explain to a 5 year old. Not gonna lie, it completely freaks me out that my child is correctly using the word "sex" in context. He finally admitted that he learned it from 2 kids at school, and we did our best to explain that it's a grown up topic but nothing to be ashamed about. Talk about a challenge.

As if that wasn't enough, I registered for my very first half marathon! 13.1 miles. Who pays $115 for permission to RUN 13.1 MILES?! Apparently I do. I'm both terrified and elated at the same time. This week I ran with Emily and her friend Kim (who are both fitness queens!) and it really pushed me. I ran the entire 7 mile stretch without a break...up both hills and everything. I figure if I can do that, I can manage 13 miles where I can walk a bit if I need to.

Last but not least, I have got to get back to my healthy eating. I have managed to NOT DO every single healthy thing I promised myself I would. My pants are tightening up again, I'm bloated, and I feel like absolute junk. It's a good thing I'm still running, or I'd have to be hunting a new wardrobe. SO frustrated with myself. It's a mental wall that I'm going to have to bulldoze. Me and broccoli are going to be best buds this week!

Must remember this...

I'm pushing myself to think affirming thoughts this week. I will conquer cupcake bouquets! I will fuel my body with healthy foods (which means not eating any cupcakes!), and I will cross the finish line of the Country Music Marathon on Saturday!

Challenge accepted.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


This post is slightly contradictory.

A. I.Must.Stop.Eating.Junk!

B. Apparently I'm going into the cupcake business.

I don't really know how these things happen.

I am a therapist by day, which I LOVE. A good session shrouded in hope has the ability to send me into continuous folds of contentment. There's really nothing better than someone "getting it," or finally realizing that they can create their own life.

But not every day is a great day. Some days are filled with "too little, too late," and sheer hopelessness. And sometimes, no matter how many ways I try to sneak encouragement into a session, it just isn't going to happen. It was on one of these days that I sent a text saying, "I quit. Let's open a bakery."

I've ALWAYS wanted to have a bakery. Even when I was a little kid, I remember trying to talk my Nana into opening a bakery, complete with a peach and mint green awning. I had it all planned out. But seeing as how she was a retired hair stylist, I guess she didn't want to deal with the daily grind.

Twenty years later, I still think of it sometimes. I LOVE TO BAKE. But since my waistline seems to grow if I even sniff a nutter butter, I never do it. I never had anyone to take the goodies to, so I just stopped baking.

Then my friend and former sister in law, Amber started baking cupcakes left and right for no reason at all. She brings them to everything, and they ROCK. So when I felt the need for relief from frustrating therapy sessions, I sent the text to her. She replied with something along the lines of "let's do it!" and the next thing I knew, we had a name, a facebook page, and about 5 pending cupcake orders. HOLY CUPCAKE, BATMAN!

And here's the best part! We're baking sweet treats on a mission. Amber recently adopted her fourth child, a little girl from the far reaches of the Ural Mountains in the Ukraine. Anna Gray is beautiful. She's lovable, and precious, and treasured, and she has Down's Syndrome. She was adopted through a facilitation website Reece's Rainbow. They connect adoptive families with precious children on the other side of the world that just happen to have special needs.

Anna Gray was adopted under the pretense that her new American family was saving her. But oh wow, she is saving all of us. I'm just her "not the aunt" and she has CHANGED ME. It's not something that I can describe, and I most certainly didn't see it coming. But this baby girl brought my world together and made things make sense that hadn't made sense in years. She is precious to me in ways that I can't even describe.

So 25% of each BabyCakes order will go towards an adoptive Reece's Rainbow family who is working feverishly to bring their little one home. Sweet treats on a mission! If you live in the Nashville area, and have an upcoming event, please find us on facebook and remember us for your next gathering!

And LOOK! I made my first cupcake bouquet!

I ran out of frosting before I finished, but I was pleased with it. More to come!

Also, (and this seems less important at the moment but...) I ran 4 miles today. It almost didn't happen, because I was craving a lazy day. It was the very definition of "fake it til you make it." And it turned out to be a GREAT run!

I'm sure it's possible to be more blessed, but I don't know how.

ETA: I'm still a therapist. Just a cupcake baking one. :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hunting Eggs

I sort of have writer's block, but there's a lot going on, and I don't want to neglect my blog. So here's a picture of two really cute kids.
This is E and his little sister (the older of Ex's two daughters). She and her mom met up with us at our church Easter egg hunt, and she came home with us to spend her first night ever at our house! Apparently there was a golden egg in this hunt. Neither of them found it. Poor CJ seemed to find only a bunch of junky hard candy. Poor thing.

I'm uber excited about her staying with us, and I hope it turns into a regular thing. For reasons that aren't really mine to blog about, The Champ and I will likely never have biological nieces or nephews, so Ex's kids and his nieces and nephew are sort of our surrogates. Also of note, this entire ordeal is evidence of tremendous growth and some pretty impressive big girl panties being worn by all involved. I'm thankful.

Still bored by my post? Here they are in the tub!
Today, I was supposed to meet up with Amber to run 10 miles. She had childcare difficulties and by late last night it was looking like I would have to go alone. By this morning, she confirmed that. I was bummed. I HATE LONG LONELY RUNS. It took me an hour to talk myself into going, and if we're being frank, that almost didn't happen. I had almost (thisclose!) successfully rationalized a way to keep my chunky butt on the couch when the Champ piped up with, "Babe, you know you'll feel better if you just go."

I hated him and loved him all at the same time.

So I laced up the wretched running shoes and headed out. I knew I wasn't going to make it 10 miles. My iPod wasn't charged, I was by myself, and I was feeling like crap. So I vowed to make it the full loop and go 7. I did pretty well, and ran into one of my cooking club friends along the way. I really can't say that I enjoyed the run. But I did feel tons better when it was over. I MUST do a LONG run next weekend. Seven miles no longer counts.

I think I'm in a running slump, which is not good considering the half marathon is less than a month away. I'm kind of bored, so I think I'm going to look for some new routes or find some more people to run with. Any takers?

In other egg hunting news, I want to have a baby. My body is not currently cooperating with that agenda, although it hasn't been enough time yet for me to go into full fledged panic. My current situation warrants only mild frustration. I guess that's one of those things that most people would just keep to themselves, but I'm not good at keeping my own secrets. I figure, if it happens, I'll want everyone to know. And if it doesn't happen, then I'll need to write in order to process (and the moral support would be nice).

Here's hoping for a golden egg!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Suck at Dieting (and also Words with Friends)

If you were playing a game of Words with Friends with me, all I have to say is, "I'm sorry."

And if you're looking to me for dieting tips, well, I'm sorry about that too.

Generally, I eat pretty well. But I just can't make myself stick to a regimented program. And when I fall off the wagon, IT HURTS.

About a month ago, I was eating my body weight in broccoli and sweet potatoes and I think I burned myself out on them. I am having a hard time motivating myself to cook anything that doesn't have chocolate chips in the recipe. I'm sort of ashamed of myself.

I'm currently debating my next dietary move. Should I "just try to eat healthy?' Should I "count calories?" Am I supposed to be on a plan, or should I just get back to blogging about it? If only motivation could be scraped up with a spatula!

I talk to clients all the time about fording the vast river between "thinking" and "doing." I feel very much like I'm in that river right now trying to make it to the other side. Oddly enough, it tastes like diet coke, and ohmygod, isn't this is how I always died on the Oregon Trail?

The silver lining, if you want to see it, is that I have kept up with my running. I've done a few P90x DVDs. I ran 7 miles on Tuesday with Emily, which about killed me, then 3 more by myself yesterday. I'm hoping to squeeze in at least 3 tomorrow, and I have a 10 miler planned this weekend with Amber. Assuming we make it the whole way, that's a 23 mile week. If that's not enough to offset my recent bad decisions, then this therapist needs to get her butt into therapy!

And now, Lord help me, my child wants me to bake cookies with him!

Do anyone else's blessings seem to make them chubby?!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The 100th Mile

Yesterday I logged my 100th running mile.

I had planned to just do 4 miles, because that's what I needed in order to reach the 100 mile mark, and Emily was going to run with me. I should have known better. Emily doesn't "just do" things. She does things ALL THE WAY.

So when she said, "we'll meet at the park and run the whole way," I sort of thought she meant, "we'll run the whole 4 miles with no walking." This was enough to reduce me to a nervous wreck. I got to the park and was practicing every therapist trick I know to rid myself of the anxiety. Could I really run all four miles without stopping? I mean, really? I say I'm a "runner" but what that means is "I run a bit and then I walk a bit, and then I run a bit, and then I walk a bit." My 4:1 ratio has been my lifeline to the running world.

She pulled up beside me during my deep breathing, and when she got out of the car she said, "So we're going the whole way!" And it suddenly clicked that she intended to run the ENTIRE GREENWAY. Not 4 miles. SEVEN miles. Not run a bit and walk a bit. RUN.

Holy Crap.

So we took off. She set a nice pace, and I fell into it easily. We started talking about the stuff women talk about, and the next thing I knew I was passing the first trail head. Then the second. Before long, we were coming up on the 3.5 mile turnaround point with a great big hill. And I ran up it! We stopped at the trail head long enough to get a quick drink and catch our breath. (Very thankful that the city finally got those water fountains working! Woo Hoo!) As we started back, she asked if I wanted to walk a ways. NO WAY! I wasn't about to waste my easy "down hill" on walking! So we took off running again.

I took a quick walking break about halfway back, and she stopped at one of the trail heads to use the port a pottie. At this point I was singing God's praises for her having a tiny bladder! As we crossed the next street, I realized I was approaching the...


This hill feels ginormous. It's long. And steep. And terrible. I've never run all the way up it.

Until yesterday. :)

I was praying the whole way up it, but I made it. I could have thrown myself a party right then and there, but I still had another mile to go to get back to my car. We ran the rest of the way back, and it hit me that this run, where I ran almost the whole thing without my sacred 4:1 ratio, was almost easier than when I throw in the walking breaks. I don't know if that's because I was distracted by our conversation, or because it was the perfect temperature, or what...but I plan to try it again to see just how much of a fluke that was.

I still can't believe I'm a runner. Sometimes I look at my life in comparison to where it was just a small handful of years ago, and I think surely it must be two different people. I'm not at all sure how I got here.

I just know who to thank.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crackly, Crafty Monday

Since I started running, my chiropractor has become a necessity. Luckily, he's awesome. I go every two weeks, and today he cracked my neck right nice.

His office is located very close to a Goodwill, or as E calls it "Treasure Store Number 3." (The kid gets WAY too excited about their $2.99 grab bag of old McDonald's toys.) I was looking for a lamp for our bedroom, but I guess fate was working in my favor today, because I left with a whole big bunch of treasures for less than $25.

I got E a bike to try out with training wheels for $10, two pair of capri pants for summer, a couple of tops, a lamp, a lamp shade, and a picture for the wall. SCORE! And as luck would have it, E was at his dad's for the night and the Champ was off to some sporting event with his best friend. I had the house to myself and crafting to do. Happy, happy girl.

I tackled the lamp first.

It was all 1984 before hand. But it was $2.

It didn't have a matching shade, so I found one that looked okay on it and got it for $2 also.

When I got home I sprayed it with a heavy coat of oiled bronze spray paint, glued some ribbon to the shade, and monogrammed that baby with an initial that I plan to keep for life. Not bad for a $4 investment, huh?

Unfortunately, I forgot to check and see if the lamp had an on/off switch. (Because why would I?!?!) Turns out, it doesn't. So my successful crafting is somewhat offset by my fail at functionality. This is what you call a "small victory."

Now for this bad boy. This ugly dragon fly print cost $3.

This project stemmed from an idea I saw on Pinterest. Someone had pinned a picture of a blown up envelope as a wall hanging, and I loved it. Now if only I had an old letter from someone that was meaningful to me.

And then I remembered! I've had a postcard in my Bible for the past 12 years that my Nana sent to me when I was on one of my longer mission trips. On it, she wrote the verse, "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far sides of the sea, even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139: 9-10 NIV. God knows no distance!! I love you, Nana"

On the address lines of the postcard (because she sent it in a larger care package) she wrote, "Sara, this scripture was on my calendar today."

Here is the original postcard.
I took it to my dad's office and blew it up 250 times larger onto a sheet of white, 11x14 paper. (Sorry about the shadow.)

I went home, spray painted the entire ugly dragonfly picture ivory. While I was waiting for it to dry, I wadded up the crisp, freshly printed enlarged postcard, then soaked it in a pot full of water and the coffee leftover in the pot from this morning. Then I went back outside and used a sanding block to distress the frame of the picture.

I let the print soak in the coffee for about 15 minutes, then I laid it out on a towel to dry. While it was still wet I tore around the edges to make it tattered. Then I used scrapbook paper and mod podge to make a matting inside the frame. I cut strips and laid them over one another so none of the edges were uniform, then I took two lighter pieces to make a center focal point. Once the coffee soaked post card print was dry enough, I laid it over the top and mod podged over the top of it.

I am really happy with the finished product.
To make this even sweeter, the picture is hanging over the same piano that me and my Nana used to sit at together to sing. Now every time I sit there, I will see God's words to me in her wobbly handwriting, and it will remind me that God knows no distance.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fear Not

There are plenty of things I'm afraid of.

I don't do mice, even though my outside cat insists that I step over a dead one on my doorstep on a weekly basis.

I don't do fireworks. My sister burned me with a sparkler when I was a kid, and I've never quite gotten over the fear of being set on fire.

And I don't do heights. In fact, my running friend this weekend was telling me a story about running on an 18" strip of road that was flanked by a deep ravine. She said if she took one step over the wrong way she would have bit it. I almost had a panic attack just listening to her tell the story. I DON'T DO RAVINES.

There's something else I've been afraid of as I embarked on this fitness journey. I wasn't afraid to try to run. I wasn't afraid to announce that I was planning to do a half marathon. But I have been terrified of P90x. I've had the DVDs for over a month, and couldn't bring myself to open them.

It's just an overwhelming program, one I feared I wasn't ready for. But since I started running, I stopped going to my extreme kickboxing classes, and as a result I'm mushier than I was. I wanted something to supplement my running. Emily suggested I break open my DVDs and use some of them to build some muscle. I tried to come up with a good excuse to not do them. But there just isn't one.

So last night I opened the box with the intention of doing one of the DVDs today after church. I feared it would be overwhelming, and omigod it was! I lifted the lid and a book the size of the Holy Bible itself fell out into my lap. I almost threw in the towel right then and there.

And then the sermon at church today was about removing fear from our lives. So I went to walmart, got some resistance bands, and came home to do the shoulders and arms DVD followed by Ab Ripper X. (Ouch!)

And here's the thing. The concept of P90x is more than I'm ready to commit to. I know I won't do one every single day, but there's absolutely no reason I can't supplement my running schedule with some strength training. And while the concept is A LOT, the workouts are manageable. Yes they are hard, and yes my abs feel sort of like they are bleeding into my feet, but I also feel accomplished. If I am squishy, I can make a choice not to be. If I'm hesitant, I can decide to JUST START SOMETHING. If I'm fearful, I can overcome it, whatever IT might be.

I've decided that when it comes to fitness, I'm adopting a no fear policy. Nothing is off the table. If I can think it in my mind, I can choose it for my body.

And also, I sort of want this tattoo.

About 6 weeks ago I went for my first run. On my next 4 mile run, I will have logged 100 miles on my fitness journey. On that first run, I feared I would never make it.

Now my only fear is that my playlist will stop before I do.

"Too many of us are not living our dreams, because we are living our fears."
Les Brown

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Most of my friends are from various parts of my life. I either went to high school with them, or met them in college. Some of them I "worked with 5 years ago" or I met them in graduate school. But there's a very small handful of people in my life that are "lifers." I've known them as long as I can remember, and for the most part, they've known me since I was in the womb.

Today, I got to run my long run with one of them. She and her daughter had come to town for a weekend visit. While they only live about an hour away now, life gets busy, and we rarely see each other. We don't talk regularly, we keep up haphazardly on facebook, and our conversations usually sprout from a weird sixth sense that something is wrong. But I would, without hesitation, give her a vital organ if she ever needed it, and I know she would fight for me if I ever found myself unable to fight for myself. She occupies a thin strip of my heart in between "friend" and "sister." She's family.

Here are the four of us (me, my sister, her, her brother) circa 1985.

They used to stay with us while their mom worked, so there are lots of these tub pictures, which the girls now think are precious, and her brother is humiliated by.

And here we are in my mom's old kitchen holding the sacred cabbage patch kids. (If any of you know who this little boy is, please don't feel compelled to rib him. I'm fairly certain we threatened him if he didn't hold the doll.)
I'm wearing the red pants. And also, this should put to rest any question of where my ditsy nature comes from. I'm an original blonde!

Today we ran 9 miles together and talked about life, love, kids, and everything that comes with them. Our pace was slower due to the fact that we were so involved in the conversation. But really, when you're spending time with a lifer, the whole point is to make it last as long as possible.

I'd have it no other way.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

As Flat As My Chest in Middle School

Unfortunately things haven't changed just a tremendous amount since middle school, but that's not really the point of this post.

Emotionally, I feel so flat this week.

It's like I'm living my life from behind a thin gray veil. I know what this is. It's the ugly animal, depression, rearing its nasty head. It's been intruding in my life since I was 15. On and off I've taken medication for this, and in the past few years I've been able to manage without much of anything.

My most recent regimen has been nothing more than endorphins and BenGay.

This week's blah could easily be attributed to any of the following:

10 mile run (immediate high afterwards, then three days of fatigue and/or difficulty sitting on the toilet)

I've been out of Shakeology for a week now. (Thank God it's on its way!) But I think the sudden withdrawal of all those concentrated vitamins and whatever other kinds of crack good stuff they put in there has left me a bit dull.

My hormones are...ummm.....MESSED UP. I'm hopeful my body will iron itself out with some semblance of urgency, or else you are likely to see me on the news for attacking someone with a wire hanger at the dry cleaners. (And I don't even use the dry cleaners!)

I've only gotten one good run in this week. I'm beginning to feel that daily workouts are in my near future as I have obviously built up a tolerance to the amount of endorphins one can earn with a 10 mile run.

Now, more than ever, I get the connection between my emotions and my physical body. When I treat one area well, the other seems to follow. So there are some things coming up on my calendar that I think will go a long way towards lifting this fog.

My Shakeology will be here SOON! (Yay crack vitamins!)I should get a run in tomorrow and have scheduled a long run with one of my "lifers" on Saturday. She'll be in from out of town and we are planning on some solid mileage happening that morning. There is a conversation penciled in for tomorrow with My Emily in which we are going to discuss the likelihood of me doing P90x. She's only the most inspiring person I know, so I already know how it's going to sound: "Sara, you should totally do P90x. It's awesome!"


And then I'll cry for 90 days.

And if all of that isn't enough to jolt me out from behind this veil, the inaugural meeting of my new cooking club meets next week. There will be great food, smart, funny women, and alcohol disguised as something fruity.

Who needs big boobs when you have endorphins, Ben Gay, and girl time with alcohol disguised as something fruity?

Apparently, not me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Running Rock Star

Over the past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of running my long runs with a few different running buddies. I highly recommend this to anyone trying to run longer than a handful of miles, as it makes the time/mileage pass much more quickly. As this weekend approached, I had my sights set on 9 miles, and I spent the better part of the week begging all of those women to run them with me. It was rather pitiful.

But one of them was headed out of town, one was recovering from a week long stomach bug, and two of them were severely shorthanded on childcare. I was faced with my first long run by myself. I was DREADING it.

After church, the Champ and I ate brunch at Cracker Barrel, then we headed home so he could submerge himself in March Madness and I could begin my run. I suited up and reached the first trail head by 12:30. I hooked my ear buds around my ears, started the Usher playlist, pressed the start button on my stop watch, and took off. I ran the first 10 minutes non stop and then fell into my 4:1 run/walk ratio.

I don't know if you all are aware of this, but at 12:30 in the afternoon, it's HOT. This was the hottest day I have chosen to run, and because I'm a genius I waited until the sun was directly overhead before I started. Brilliant. By the time I reached the 3.5 mile trail head (the turn around point) I was roasting. I said a quick prayer that the city had finally decided to turn on the water fountains that adorn each trail head, but they hadn't, so I turned around and thought terrible things about them for the next 1/2 mile. I passed a father and son on their bikes, a couple of teenagers making out on a bench, and a family getting their pictures taken in a nearby field.

The fifth mile was the hardest, and probably the one that I walked the most. I was really missing my running buddies at this point, because peer pressure is probably the only thing that would have kept me from falling out of my ratio into a walk. I probably walked most of that mile, until a second wind hit and I began running again. When I passed my old high school, I began arguing with myself about what my distance goal was. I had no choice but to finish 7, but with the heat, sweat, thirst, and fatigue that started to sound like all I would be good for today. But then there was this voice that came from somewhere in my gut that I don't access very often. She sounded sure of herself. Confident. Like she meant business.

"No. You can keep going."
"You can take a break long enough to get water out of your car. No excuses. Keep going. Get your 9."
"But it's so hot. I'm sort of over it today."
"Get your 9."

So I jogged up the giant hill, got back into my 4:1 ratio and decided to play it by ear. Whatever this voice of determination was, I felt fairly certain I could shut her up by the time I got back to the car. I was so. over. it.

But as I rounded the last 1/4 mile to the car, I passed the same father and son on their bikes that I had passed at the 3.5 mile trail head. The dad recognized me, gave me a big thumbs up, and grinning said, "You're a rock star, girl! Way to go!"

And then there was that voice again.

"See! You're a rock star! You can do this! Get your nine. Get some water, then turn around and keep going."

And because that little ounce of encouragement felt SO GOOD, I believed her. I ran to my car, abandoned my stop watch, grabbed a bottle of water out of the front seat and turned back around. I tried running while drinking water, which apparently I'm not coordinated enough to do. So I walked a 1/4 mile while I drank. The water was nearly hot from sitting in the sun, but it was the best water ever! I passed a trash can, tossed it in, and started my run again. I just had to go to the 1 mile marker, then turn around again to get my 9. I felt pretty good, and as I approached that sacred mile marker that voice piped up again.

"Keep going. We're doing 10."


"I don't want 9. I want TEN. KEEP GOING."

She sounded so confident....and sort of bitchy, so I kept going.

As I reached the 1.5 mile marker, I listened for her again. I guess she was content, because she said nothing. I turned around quickly, lest she should decide to speak up again, and also because that particular mile marker smells like sewage.

I walked up the big hill, then found a comfortable pace and ran to the next trail head. I had to stop due to traffic crossing the street, and my body almost shut down right there. It was like picking two bricks up off the ground to get going again, and I practically crawled across the cross walk, but as I made it across, a gust of pride swept through me and carried me the last 1/4 mile.

I almost cried when I rounded the curve and saw my car sitting there in the parking lot. It looked way too far away.

As I stretched my legs, pulled on the door handle, and blasted the air conditioning, it hit me.

I just ran 10 miles.

And then there was that voice again saying, "You did it. You actually did it!"

Only that time, she didn't sound so demanding. She sounded relieved. She sounded proud.

She sounded an awful lot like me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I have a problem with moderation.

My problem is that it doesn't work.

I was fearful for a minute that it might just be me, but then I got out my googling fingers and realized that 2 out of every 3 adults in America are either overweight or obese, and over 20 million Americans are currently in treatment for an addiction. It seems to be a universal problem.

This struggle is nearly unstoppable in me. There is a predictable pattern of obsessive behavior in me that you can almost set your watch by. I can't do anything "just a little bit." I can't just "try new things." I have to go ALL THE WAY. And then I quit.

There is depressing evidence of this sickness in every corner of my house. I have untouched crochet hooks and skeins of yarn in a bag in the closet. I have soap making supplies above the fridge. I have the remnants of homemade laundry detergent in a tupperware container in my utility room. I have gallon upon gallon of oddly colored paint in the shed. I have a sewing machine in my closet. I have a juicer plugged in on my counter top, a food processor tucked away in the cabinet, and a brand new yogurt maker hidden in with the pots and pans. I rarely, sometimes never use any of them.

It's why I have done the Master Cleanse, the South Beach Diet, the Dr. Oz YOU diet, the veggie soup diet, and a prolonged juice fast.

And sadly, it's why I was all about clean eating when that juice fast was over but have had to "start over" at least 10 times since.

I realized something while I was running today, and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Food and fitness are different from trying new little craft projects and hobbies. I can start quilting and then quit. I can try to sew and decide it's not for me. I can hop on the DIY bandwagon and then hop right off when I decide it's easier to just go to Kroger and buy some freakin' yogurt and laundry detergent.

And all of those things, even if I stick with them, have a definitive end point.

Food and fitness doesn't end. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. It's not losing pounds, it's being healthy. This isn't something to treat as an obsession, because it's never going to be "finished." Once I lose the weight I have to maintain it. There will always be another level to get to.

This realization made me understand that I have to continuously challenge myself. I can't quit, because this isn't about finishing something. It's about living my best life. Some days I don't want to go get gas, but I do it anyway because it makes my life better to not get stuck on the side of the road. I have to get my mind committed to food and fitness the way it's committed to going to the store, fueling my car, working, loving, and breathing in and out.

It doesn't need to have rules and restrictions. I'm not "on a diet." I'm living my best life. I MUST WRAP MY HEAD AROUND THIS.

This is a journey that has no end point, no destination. It's JUST about the journey.

And I refuse to find myself stranded on the side of the road.

(But I sort of hate not knowing where I'm going.)