Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you ever have those moments where you find yourself seeing the exact thing you needed to see at the exact right moment? Last night, one of my childhood besties posted this saying by Pam Lambert on Facebook “she silently stepped out of the race she never wanted to be in, found her own lane, and proceeded to win.”

If your life is anything like mine right now, I am guessing that maybe you need to hear that message as well. For anyone who knows me, you know boundaries are a big thing in my life. Some attribute my unwillingness to hug (unless you are my son) to my Scandinavian roots. Perhaps. Perhaps it is the same genes that have helped me master the art of saying no… right until I get sucked up into society’s pressures to be something. WTF does that even mean?

Anyways, bottom line is sometimes when things get hectic, it is easy to forget what matters. To get sidetracked by the to do list versus the what matters list. I was rapidly approaching that this past week. Then Saturday hit. A perfect family fun day on the South Shore. The only to do, play with my kiddo and enjoy fabulous food. It was the perfect reminder that I needed.

It is insane to think summer is over halfway over. Work is insane. I want to run another race. The no activity COVID-19 calendar is now replaced with the how can we cram two years of lifetime in before the snow flies.

Here’s the thing. Time keeps moving. No matter how hard you try to slow it down, it just keeps ticking. Moments we can never get back keep passing by. You know, I’d give anything to have a mundane conversation with my father about the weather or ask my mom for some advice about getting my high school heart broken yet again by a two-timing loser. Maybe it is the fact that I cannot get those moments back that I fight so hard to keep my time sacred. There are the things I need to do to have the resources I need (shower, collect a paycheck, answer emails, attend meetings) … but man I try hard to not let them define me.

Am I always successful? Not really. I have an ego just like everyone else. I want to get the gold star at work and look pretty for my husband. I hear the ads of being too big and want to lose the weight and eliminate the wrinkles. I want to be successful (whatever that means). I wish I didn’t. Most day I don’t. But when I do, man does it derail my why.

So anyway, last night I was faced with a conundrum of whether I should take my kiddo to a Friday matinee and have some 1:1 mommy and Jake time (before a crazy summer festival weekend on our lake), or take advantage of a meeting free afternoon to crank out some more reports. The choice should have been obvious. But, for a moment I Iet that fear of not being enough slip into my head and challenge my why. I felt guilty for taking more time off since I have some vacation time coming up.

I’m happy to report that moment has passed. The work will get done. It always does. But, these moments you cannot get back. So, if you needed to hear this, take it from the selfish Scandinavian who chooses herself first. You get to decide which lane matters and define your success against your why’s versus someone else’s. As someone who has spent and will spend a lifetime swerving in and out of that lane, it truly is the best place to be. In other news, this month marks ten years of running. I posted about it earlier this month but I also shared 10 lessons learned for Another Mother Runner. You can check out the blog post here. And, a special thanks to The Duluth News Tribune for making me a recommended reading in their lifestyle section this past week. Next month, I’ll be doing a book signing event at Redberry Books in Cable if you are at all interested in getting an autographed copy of me living out my why. Can’t make it to Cable? Buy my book here.

Cheers to 10-years!

My first post-race photo ten years ago!

Ten years ago, I enjoyed a few too many mojitos at a dinner party and announced I was training for a half-marathon. (I was not.) Nevertheless, the next day I decided in a carb-induced hangover to make good on that announcement.

Since then, I’ve crossed dozens of finish lines, often at the back of the pack. Along the way, I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks that I wish I had known starting out. I put those together in a book and also for an upcoming blog post for Another Mother Runner.

But, today I want to share another lesson that’s been on my mind. Time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. The obvious trigger is losing my dad and also rapidly approaching the age my mother was when she died. One cannot help but question their mortality in these moments. Bigger than that, though, is the time the constantly escapes while busy waiting or planning for the next thing.

In the healthiest of times, I guess it can be called productive procrastination. It is why I have not dived into my next book headfirst. I know my heart needs a bit more time to heal. But, in most situations, at least for me, it is about fear. It is about me wondering but what if I fail, or this isn’t the right path, or I discover I hate it or someone is better than me. Sometimes I spend so much time pondering and contemplating that I forget that sometimes the easiest solution is to just move ahead.  

Ten years ago, a few too many mojitos cancelled out my fear. Before I could ponder or talk myself out of running, I proclaimed myself a runner. I’m so grateful to that because I know 100% without a doubt if I had done the pros/cons list about whether I should start running, I never would have taken that first step.

I’m so glad I did. In the past 10-years, I’ve had a few lofty (for me) extrinsic goals that focused on time or speed. That isn’t why I run, though. I run because I choose to. Because it is the identity I want for myself. And the best way to achieve that, is to do it.

There’s a fascinating best-selling book out there right now called Atomic Habits. Game changer for me. It gives me language for a lot of the things I struggle with when it comes to creating simple daily habits that’ll help get me to the goalpost. I highly recommend it.

In it, James Clear reinforces something so vital to success – that in order to get anywhere, you have to act. Seems simple. Unless you are the plus-size runner who is trying to resume training. This weekend I did that. I tackled my first non-express spin class (45-minutes of pure sweat-induced bliss) and re-opened Hal’s app. I plugged in a fall race with my only goal being it is time to start again.

If you’re still reading this and are stuck, read Atomic Habits. If you’re stuck about how to start running, just lace up your shoes and go. If you want even something simpler, buy my book. Heck, drop me a line and I’ll even mail you an autographed copy. The bottom line is just start.

Ten years ago, I threw a few words out at a party that nobody but me remembers. But, it was the start of a journey I’m so proud of and I cannot wait to see what the next 10-years have in store for me.

The Runner’s Shot

This is a story about tequila. For years, I always thought I hated tequila. I reckoned I was more a sweet wine and vodka/rum gal. Until, the Rock personally persuaded me to try Teremana. I wish this was an ad. It is not. Anyways, I find his Instagram account fascinating for a number of reasons – and after months of watching folks salute over “the spirit of the Earth” I decided to buy a bottle. I even googled the perfect margarita recipe and bought my first bottle of Cointreau.

Keep in mind, my introduction to Tequila was $4 pitchers of Long Island Teas that I drank with a straw until puking… and when things got fancy doing shots of tequila chased with a dead worm. Regardless, I was shocked to discover I actually love me a little mana with a shot of Cointreau, a squeeze of lime and some Sprite Zero. Delish.

Funny how our perspective changes over time. What’s crazier is how much our life is determined by the narrative we tell ourself. Now, I know my life is not better with Teremana. But, it is better with running. I don’t know what past experience made me believe that I could not be a runner but for decades I was convinced that I hate running (which I actually do) but more importantly, that I was somehow not good enough to run. Right until I didn’t.

Nobody told me to run a race. Nobody talked me off the ledge of self-doubt. But, at some point (after a few too many drinks) I decided I wanted to change the narrative so I did. Sometimes it really is that simple.

So today, I ask you this, if there’s something you want to do and if the only thing holding you back is you, dare yourself to try. Maybe you’ll hate it and never do it again. But at least you’ll be calling your shot. And who knows, if it is anything like a shot of Teremana, you may find you love it.

Wanderer or Productive Procastinator? You decide.

I’m officially a wanderer. Ever since dad died, I’ve been pondering what’s next. Sure, I completed a few in-person races and have been trying to slowly re-enter the world post pandemic but in terms of the next big thing, I’m sort of staring at a blank page. This is new and frankly a bit unnerving for me.

As a Generation X gal, I like to deal in facts. As a planner, I like to know what’s next. So to solve this new conundrum in my life, I did what I know best.  I turned to some trusty personal help books. I spent time charting out my why and revisiting my annual goals. I took advantage of free coursework and doubled down on amazing podcasts offered by some amazing personal growth gurus but none of it stuck. Except for this. The 5 Second Rule. Now, I don’t want to be too Pollyana about this and say that I agree with Mel Robbins when she says on the first page and first line of her book 5 Second Rule “it takes just 5 seconds to change your life.”

But, what I will say, is when you’re pondering what’s next and are spinning out a bit, there’s absolutely nothing better than just doing something. Frankly anything. So, about a month ago, I plotted out a few bucket list items and I pulled up my calendar and with no rhyme or reason, filled it in. Things I just wanted to do. Not because they’d drive professional or personal growth, or make me look like Mother Theresa or shed 100 pounds. But because it sounded fun. (This may seem normal to most folks, but I’m not known for my ability to schedule stuff just for fun, so go with this).

Productive procastination at its finest! So blessed.

In the past few months, I have started rock polishing, enjoyed an incredible girl’s weekend in Marquette, planted my first hydrangea, made a gorgeous petunia planter (while sipping some adult beverages), planted a vegetable garden of only things I actually enjoy eating, started a weekly spin class and am strength training, scheduled a North Shore overnighter, resumed journaling, devoured some fabulous smut books and am co-coaching baseball. I’ve mastered the perfect margarita recipe and trained my chickens to come on command (with snacks). I’m working on a summer bucket list with Jake and set time aside to freshen up my wardrobe next week with a trip to an outlet mall. Oh and coffee dates… lots of quick check-ins with co-workers, girlfriends and even a bit of networking over delicious lattes. I’ve sold nearly 5,000 copies of my book and am jotting down ideas for my next book. I’m still in what Mel Robbins calls productive procastination… which as a writer is different than just putting a project off due to stress but instead allowing myself space to be creative. Not sure if that’s a real thing but I’m going with it for now.

I mention all of this because at times I get to the end of the week a bit exhausted but feeling like I have done nothing. If I allow myself to get caught up in that mentality that in order to be better than the day before, I need to somehow level up my game, than I am failing on all accounts. A year ago, I would have beat myself up over that—called myself directionless and without a specific purpose. Heck, that’s why I dropped a small fortune to listen to someone pep me up and believe that if I don’t have a series of life goals that I’m actively working on, then I’m blowing my life away.

Turns out, I was wrong. Sometimes, you just need space to explore. To wander. To give yourself time to figure out what makes you tick. You don’t do that by sitting down and envisioning your perfect life and then manifesting it by getting up at 5 am and moving your body. You do it by living. By trying new things and allowing yourself to recognize that you may discover something about yourself you don’t know. The truth is, the more I try, the less I know about who I want to be when I grow up but I’m having some serious fun giving myself the space to ask the question. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes that even means jumping out of bed at 4:40 am to hit up a local spin class. But, I did it because I wanted to, not because I thought it’d change my life.

A friend recently posted a shot of our high school graduation 25-years ago. I vividly remember that day. My mom had died two months prior and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt an obligation to become “something” to keep her legacy alive and to not become some silly statistic of what it means to be a first generation college student of an alcoholic. In hindsight, I know my mom will always be proud of what I’ve done with my life but if she were around, she would have reminded me that life isn’t worth living if you are doing it for someone else.

So today, I share all of this, only to tell you that the past year has been rough. It is has been trying and serious and depressing and polarizing and game changing for many folks. Few if any of the folks I know would say that 2020-2021 was fun. I’m with you. But, I’m also hear to say that if there was ever a time to give yourself some grace and let go and just be – it is now.

The 5 Second Rule talks a lot about manifesting the life you want by being brave and taking small action steps. But, if you are like me, and find that sometimes making time to just have fun is almost more daunting than tackling an MBA, then I challenge you to 5-4-3-2-1 yourself into doing nothing. To catapult yourself into a walk with no purpose other than to check out nature. Or, wander the aisles of a store and buy something totally frivolous that makes you feel pretty. Or, buy that extra espresso shot, even if it means you’ll end up binge watching an extra couple hours on Netflix and being tired the next morning. Heck, show up at a spin class and feel like a Rhino riding a bike for the first time, only to leave knowing you’ve surpassed Lyndsey Vonn’s #chin drip because you are so out of shape but find yourself wanting to go back for more. As I look ahead to the second half of 2021, I’m proud to say my one and only mantra this year is to be a wanderer. It doesn’t mean I won’t wander into some crazy, game changing experiences but the why behind it will be a bit different.

PS This post was obviously inspired by Mel Robbins The 5 Second Rule book and Ted Talk. And also, Glennon Doyle’s podcast called We can do hard things. Check out both next time you are looking for ways to productively procrastinate through life.

What’s next? Running book favorites and gardening.

Springtime in northern Wisconsin.

I’m currently in process mode. I’m trying to process what’s next in terms of running goals. I honestly don’t know. But, I’m loving every single second of this space to contemplate what’s next while moving my body and catching up on so many podcasts. Also, since it is the height of spring, I’m taking this respite to tend my garden. I love gardening about as much as I love running – as in I love the fruits of my labor AKA sweet peas, mint, garlic and tomatoes. BUT, I hate weeding and bugs and sweat. Anyone with me? Anyways, the garden is slowly coming along. As are my plans for what’s next.

It is no secret that I’m also an avid reader. I draw inspiration from words. Recently, I had an opportunity to write a post for Another Mother Runner about some of my favorite memoirs. I thought I’d share it here as well in case you are looking for some inspiration.

As an aside, I’d like to add the book Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins. Not a running book, but some serious inspiration.

Check out this link to a guide to some great running reads, with a leaning towards plus-size perspective. And, as I continue to explore what’s next I leave you with these wonderful and wise words from Alexi Pappas

run like a bravey

sleep like a baby

dream like a crazy

replace can’t with maybe

Pappas describes bravey as “the label for a mini-movement, a self-identifier for those who are willing to chase their dreams even though it can be intimidating and scary. It celebrates the choice to pursue a goal and even relishes the pain that comes with effort. There is nobility to it; it’s something to be celebrated.”

Wherever you draw inspiration – however you determine what’s next – I hope you can find it in you to be a Bravey. In the meantime, I hope you find some running inspiration in my favorite running books.

Field of Dreams

A few months back, I got candid about some of the struggles I was having with losing dad at Christmas. I felt it was important to be honest about the ups and downs of grief. But, today, I want to share the flip side to the lowest of lows. The highest of highs.

My 7-year old is excited about baseball, which means I’m excited about baseball. I’m pitching in where I can with a series of other dedicated parents to coach. On a side note, kudos to every coach who attempts to teach boys in Little League because wow, there’s something to be said about 17 high energy children throwing balls and swinging bats around you. I digress, though.

This week, Jake wanted to play catch. Dad had a meeting which meant for just a moment, I was the cool parent. Prior to heading out, I reminded Jake that I once played Little League. I even showed off my team portraits and our championship trophy circa 1989. He won’t admit it, but I think he was impressed.

Afterwards, we headed outside with gloves and ball in-hand. Maybe it was the gorgeous weather… the signs of spring literally sprouting around us… or, the pileated woodpecker pecking above my son’s head. But, I was immediately taken back to a similar scene 35-years ago. A time when I would beg my dad to head outside and play catch with me. The answer, no matter how tired he was, was always yes.

Back and forth the ball went. I made Jake practice his pop-ups and grounders. He worked on pitching. The nonstop chatter only disrupted by the snap of the ball in my glove. I found myself wanting to capture and savor every second of this exchange while also reminiscing over how I’ve come full circle. I won’t get too cliché here but when folks talk about how meaningful moments are sometimes the simplest of moments – this was it.

The past few months, I’ve been really struggling with how to pay tribute to dad – asking myself how do I keep his legacy alive while also not dwelling in his loss? How to not rush past the pain but to also recognize that life goes on. And that’s actually ok.

This isn’t a post about faith. It is a post about family. But, sometimes the two are blurred. And in this moment, I can’t help but think dad was with me coaching me as I coached Jake.

I’ll certainly play catch with Jake again. I’ll certainly watch him surpass my skills and grow up to be his own person. But, I know he’ll do that without me imparting just a little bit of my dad in him first… and the circle of life continues.

In this moment, I couldn’t be happier.

It’s All Relative

May marked my first double digit in-person race in 18-months. It was my first time running in Eau Claire. The race promised to be an exciting weekend away with one of my favorite gal pals. My training, while not all in, had been consistent. I took Friday off to pamper myself with an early morning spin class, a savory maple latte, browsing an amazing independent coffee shop and investing a small fortune at my favorite Red Barn bare root plant sale (hey, some girls love purses. I love plants).

Things took a little dip when my spin instructor informed that Eau Claire is not in fact a flat city. In my defense, there was no topography map with this race. But, I definitely knew that wasn’t a good sign. She is after all, a seriously badass runner and if she thought Eau Claire was hilly, I was in trouble. Later that day, my bestie’s dad had a terrible accident resulting in her going from runner to caretaker in a heartbeat. I was devastated, for obvious selfish reasons, but also because I’ve been there. I know how challenging it is to balance work, life and caring for family. At the end of the day, father’s always come first.

As I modified my packing, I knew I needed to modify my intentions as well. Sure, I went into my training in January with a specific time goal in mind. I really wanted to clear 14-minute miles. My race a few weeks prior indicated it might be possible. I also knew, similar to how circumstances can change, this too was not a guarantee.

On Saturday, I began the journey south. I opted to “pop in” to see my boys at our family cabin. It was cabin opener and a mere 90-minutes out of the way. The extra car time gave me plenty of time to revisit my why. You know, that thing that’ll fuel your run when there’s nothing left to give. I knew I’d need it come Sunday morning.

I’ve talked a TON about my why. Heck, I even wrote a whole book about it. But, in this moment, my why felt different. It felt like a signal of acknowledging the next normal. The normal where COVID-19 still factors into daily decisions but doesn’t prohibit me from running with strangers. The normal where dad’s still in my phone but won’t answer my call. The normal where I’m starting to discover I’m living in a master’s body that doesn’t rebound as quickly as I’d like. But, at the core, my why remains as simple as because I can.

Race eve I listened to the course director breakdown the pending race. It is here my fears were calmed when she mentioned the course was relatively flat. Looking out my window at some serious hills, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I went to bed that night firm in my why and a hope that Sunday’s race would be successful.

Depending on the benchmark one uses, Sunday’s race was anything but successful. Turns out relatively flat includes a long stretch of uphill at the start and then a series of never-ending rolling hills every time you crossed a bridge. BTW the race is called Bridge 2 Bridge – turns out there are A LOT of bridges in Eau Claire. I was not prepared. And I paid dearly for it. By mile 3, it was clear that even with the help of an Uber, I would come nowhere close to my goal time. I was definitely disappointed. I even had a moment where I contemplated quitting, only I had no clue where my car was and figured it might be shorter to just finish the race then walk home. In racer moments, this was an ultimate low.

Luckily, my why kicked in. I had plenty of time to take in the scene. It was a gorgeous course with over-the-top friendly racers and volunteers. Despite being May in northern Wisconsin, the weather was borderline hot with the perfect mix of sun and shade. I was running with real people on a real racecourse. Spotify did not disappoint with the perfect race tunes. I was once again reminded of Henry Ford’s famous quote, “whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.” I crossed the finish line Sisu strong.

Statistically speaking, that race was rough. I finished not only in the back of the pack but the bottom finisher for my age group. It was my slowest time ever. I set a record in new chaffing spots and my calves are still recovering. If I’m being honest, do these numbers disappoint me? Absolutely. I’ll be taking the next few months to evaluate what’s next in my running and fitness journey. In the meantime, I’m reverting back to the basics of just moving my body every single day.

That said, I’m proud to share this story. I had many, many opportunities to quit the past 4-months. My initial race was cancelled. Spring was well spring, resulting in abnormal training conditions at best. Work is busy. Life is busy. I’m grieving. Plans changed. But, yet, it still always comes back to if I get to run, why wouldn’t I? It really is as simple as that.

So for the hundreds of runners that passed me this weekend, thanks for your words of encouragement. For those sitting on the sidelines wondering if they can, you can. I promise you that. It may not be pretty but it is still worth it. Afterall, success is all relative… and for the record, Eau Claire is not relatively flat in this gal’s eyes, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Race Day Recap

This past weekend, I lined up for my first in-person race in over 18-months. Since then, I’ve attended a game changing personal development conference (important for me to note, the conference was a game changer but the host is someone I’ve since lost most respect for), launched a book, said goodbye to my father, navigated a global pandemic and gained what I’ll lovingly call the friendly 15 (aka work from home chips).

Since January, I’ve done average on my training runs. In fact, according to Hal, I’m sitting at a solid C as I enter the final weeks of training for a 10-mile run in Eau Claire. Hal also says based on my training that I will hit my goal time come May 1. This race was a good prequel to seeing if that was true.

I crossed the finish line with no clue what’ll happen May 1. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty but a few race highlights.

  • Turns out one should not assume the course is the same and Duluth’s hills are alive and well. I’d like to say this was a pleasant surprise. It was not.
  • COVID-19 has changed the start of races. Some good. Some bad. It is nice to know there isn’t a sea of people ready to crush you at the start. The introvert in me loves it. However, staggered start times, especially if you are starting in a middle time, means you are continuously getting passed by faster runners. It is hard to not feel like a tortoise in the way.
  • Crossing the finish line is still as sweet as ever. As is the medal.
  • Post-race cocktails are still delish.

When all was said and done, I finished 4 seconds slower than 2-years ago. I’ll take it. Am I still back of the pack? Yep. Am I still pacing ahead of my goal time for next week? Yep. In fact, my 13:37 per mile time is 23 seconds under my goal for May 1. Now, I recognize there is a huge difference between a 5k and a 10-miler but I’m cautiously optimistic that next week might go well.

All of that said, I recently heard one of those game changing podcasts that have me once again contemplating my why and motivation behind running. Brene Brown interviewed Dr. Pippa Grange about her new book Fear Less. It is currently on my to-read list. But, something she said really struck me. In their interview, they talked about a shallow win versus a deep win.

The shallow win is that carrot stick – that next big thing you are always chasing but yet somehow it is never enough. It is the world record, only to determine you need to set another record. Then, there’s the deep win. You know, the one where you cross that finish line with absolutely nothing left and even if you didn’t beat your PR, you still feel a sense of accomplishment because you ran the race on your terms? These past few months, I’ve been writing in my journal that I want to complete a 10-miler pacing under 14-minute miles. It is an arbitrary goal other than it’d be a PR and in my head, the closer I get to 10-minute miles, the closer I am to a runner versus being a jogger. This might be a simplified version of a relatively complex concept, but it does poise a few questions.

Is my goal going to help or hurt my love/hate relationship for running? On the one hand, my training has been a bit more consistent after the chaffing/undertraining/almost dying half-marathon of 2019. On the other hand, I’m wondering what happens if I don’t hit that time. If I’ll still feel that sense of purpose and achievement I generally feel, even when things don’t go well, because I kept showing up.

For the most part, my running goals have revolved around maintaining toenails, run/life balance and avoiding roadside potty disasters. But, the competitive part in me wants to set the bar a bit higher while also not losing site of what really does matter to me – just showing up and trying my best. It is an interesting conundrum to contemplate as I enter this last week of training. I guess we’ll see what happens when I cross the finish line.

In the meantime, I’ll be fine tuning my playlist (spotify premium is worth every nickel), doing a couple final training runs, carbo-loading, and gearing up for a weekend with my bestie who has graciously decided to hit this crack of dawn race with me and celebrate afterward at the Leinie Lodge. To me, right or wrong, shallow or deep, this seems like a for sure win-win to me.

Training Update, Traditions and Transitions

I’m less than 1-month to my almost half-marathon. Hal’s plan this weekend was for me to run an 8-miler…outside. I knew it was time and the weather forecast left me no runway for excuses to run inside. Don’t get me wrong, I loath the treadmill (minus the Tim Riggins part) but running outside is well hard. And frankly, everything seems hard right now.

My recent racing reset has done wonders for my body and soul. I came back from Florida recharged and ready to hit the road again… for about a week. Then Easter week hit. For many, Easter represents those crunchy mini Cadbury eggs (delish), Peeps (gross), and serious religious significance. For me, it marks the weekend mom died.

That’s a tough tradition to break. I’ve celebrated more Easters without mom than with her. Decades have passed since her passing. Yet, I always find myself Easter week replaying the activities of April, 1996, while also trying to find new traditions and memories to fill that void. I’ve had mixed success.

I genuinely enjoy prepping an Easter dinner. I’ve long since abandoned being a holiday church goer but instead celebrate my faith privately. I set aside time on Good Friday to honor my mom (today it was a spin class, latte and 3-mile waterfall hike at the crack of dawn). I savor the Easter candy and embrace the bunny themed décor.

In my quest to be healthy, I am doing my best to do some health habit stacking. This week that included a morning chat with someone I really respect, a set bedtime routine, minimal snacking, lots of water and my training plan. Yep. I said it. My training plan. Last week, Hal said I needed to run 4.5 miles twice. The first time I dived right in. The second time, my body said F-that. I compromised (trying to practice grace here folks) and said I’d walk the 4.5 miles. I was feeling a bit beat down and guess what – the work-out worked.

I came home to chaos. We have new chickens and they haven’t settled into their bedtime routine. The neighbor cat was back. Jake was hyped up on sugar (than you Iron River PTO). I took it all in stride. Right until I didn’t.

I was scrolling through my phone to text someone about a rental when I saw it. Dad. He’s still a contact in my phone. I paused for a moment, trying to shove the wave of emotions down. The practical person inside of me said to hit delete and move on. That this was no big deal. He was a contact in my phone and now he’s not. But I couldn’t do it. I’m not ready to say good-bye.

There’s lots of conversation about the stages of grief. I hate that. They aren’t stages. They are moments. There are moments of anger and sadness and denial and negotiating and acceptance and meaning (if you buy into the new theory of 6-stages of grief). Right now, I’m in the season of allowing myself to pause and be sad when needed while also trying to allow myself to enjoy meaningful moments of joy. I’m in the season of not ready to hit delete but not denying he’s gone. I feel his absence and presence every day.

So Dad is still in my phone. We’re in the process of updating his and mom’s headstone. He sits on my sister’s fireplace. I’m slowly coming to peace with how much our broken healthcare system contributed to his final days. This spring we’ll say one more goodbye to him, but it definitely won’t be our final goodbye. That’s the thing about transitions – I’m finding they can take as long as one needs.

And that 8-mile run? I did it. Well 7-miles of it anyway. It felt great. And, it was some quality time to have a chat with dad and fill him in on what he’s missed these past few months. Hal gave my overall training to date a B. But, I’m giving myself an A in the just keep showing up category making my overall grade good, not great. But solidly good. And honestly, I’m ok with that. I’m ok with giving myself some grace and seeing where this year takes me.

I’m slowly figuring out what’s next for me. Right now, it is a series of upcoming runs, garden planning, cross-training (yep I started a weekly spin class but that’s a different post for a different day) and rock polishing. I’m not sure what will stick but I’m doing my best to have fun trying during this transition.

I hope y’all find some joy in today, whatever your beliefs might be, or whatever transition you might be facing. And in the words of cheesy Hallmark, Hoppy Easter 😊

Ready for a Running Reset?

Life has a reset button. It is called tomorrow. So here we are. I’m over halfway through training for my first almost half-marathon since pre-pandemic. Last week, I took the opportunity to check out of life. I escaped to Florida and spent 8-days eating delicious food, overindulging on cocktails, soaking in hours of sunshine and swimming in the ocean and long sunrise walks.

I also shelved personal development. I took a time out on reading self-help books, journaling deep thoughts, or attempting to manifest my life and instead just lived my best life. I devoured three fabulous books (The Four Winds, the light we lost, and Her Last Breath in case you are wondering) that gave me a break from the monotony of day-to-day tasks. I didn’t log into a single video meeting. And I didn’t run. Yep. I didn’t run a single step.

I went to Florida envisioning early morning beach runs. Instead, I swapped my running shoes for flip flops. Instead, I took a mental break from wondering if I’d make my running goal come May 1 to just be. It was the perfect reset.

I’m intentionally saying reset versus setback. I knew that if I forced myself to run on vacation, I’d resent it. So instead, I took a time out. I cross trained other ways. I skipped waves, swam with my kiddo and hit 10,000+ steps every single day. And, I returned home ready to run.

I share this because sometimes I think we think it is better to half-ass something versus taking a time out. To acknowledge that what we need right in this moment is an opportunity to just enjoy life. I returned on Saturday with a desire to hit the road. Less than forty-days to go until I see what I’m capable of doing on the course. I’m excited. Cautiously optimistic. My plan come race day – Just show up.

I recently won this bracelet from Momentum Jewelry (thank you Instagram contest!). A great reminder of my intention come race day. And if I fail, guess what? I’ll show up again. And again. And again. Because honestly, I’d rather show up and fail than give up on myself.

A couple other quick notes for those following my self-publishing journey. A special shout out to Perfect Duluth Day for sharing an excerpt from my book! Also, I mentioned a few posts ago but I’m now a semi-regular blogger for Another Mother Runner. My latest post, which focuses on faith, can be found here. If you still haven’t purchased a copy and are interested, please consider buying my book. I can now say you’ll be joining hundreds of folks (some of whom I don’t even know) who have invested in my dream. If I haven’t said it today, thank you to each and every single one of you.

Onward we go.