Training, podcasts, and pasta!

Sporting my newest training ball cap. Being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding journey of them all!

Valentine’s Day. What a loaded holiday of unmet expectations. I’m gearing up to channel my inner Finlander by eating my weight in carbs with this TikTok phenomenon known as uunifetapasta. I’ll enjoy this savory meal with my favorite men and a chilled shot of Teramana, Cointreau, lime and Sprite Zero. It isn’t quite a margarita but might be one of the best drinks of ALL time.

But, before I do that, I wanted to talk a little bit about love. Yep. I’m going there. This week marked my first Amazon review by someone I didn’t know. On my first-time author journey, this was a big deal because I honestly didn’t know if anyone who didn’t feel obligated to the read book would. And, it turns out some folks have.

It also tuns out, at least one person, loved it. From Hildee Weiss, “I loved hearing her story of how she got into running and I enjoyed reading her tips and suggestions ranging from what to eat before a big race to what to look for in a shoe. She writes with honesty and humor and with heart.” A five-star review. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt pretty amazing.

My writing is far from perfect. But, the one thing I pride myself on is being honest. I write my truth, for better or worse. I mean how many other gals share their stories about shit-stained pants for the world to see? And, it turns out that vulnerability occasionally resonates with like-minded women trying to find their way in the world. Enough so, that I’m excited to announce that starting tomorrow I’ll be occasionally sharing my running adventures on Another Mother Runner. Dimity and Sarah have been absolutely fabulous to chat with and they are kind enough to allow me to share some stories on the amazing platform they’ve built over the past decade. I am pretty excited. If you are interested in checking it out, sign up for their podcast here. This past week, I also had the opportunity to share more about my running journey on WTIP out of Grand Marais. I was once again extremely nervous, but Annie was an amazing host and it was an absolute honor to share my adventures with folks in Grand Marais. I also dropped off copies of my book at Zenith Bookstore in Duluth, making it now available in 5 places!

Most weeks, this would be beyond exciting. But the thing I’m most excited about this particular week is I just finished Week 1 of my 12-week half-marathon training plan. It was sub-zero so my time was spent on the dreaded treadmill. I had four training runs for a total of 12 miles. And guess what? I did all 12-miles. This week I loved myself enough not to quit running. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. I used all of the hacks. Tim Riggins. Ordering new shoes. Drinking Nuun and using the massage gun. Scheduling the work-outs in my calendar. Doing the Mel Robbins countdown and channeling my inner sisu. Yes. I know that sounds a bit dramatic. But, I’m being honest. Running isn’t easy for me. Especially after a year plus hiatus.

And you know what? It felt good to keep my promise to myself. It felt good to move my body. It felt good to focus on putting one foot in front of another after a challenging month of navigating grief and a harsh Wisconsin Winter. Thank god for therapy, friends and family. I don’t know what the next 75-days hold. I do know that right now I’m savoring this week’s wins and lacing up for another week of showing up not just for those around me, but for myself as well.      

The promises we keep

Ten hours after my father died, I found myself in a pet store trying to comprehend the clerk as she explained she could not legally sell my son and I goldfish due to not having the appropriate tank prepped for the occasion. It was Christmas Eve afternoon and I had promised my son we’d surprise dad with a fish for Christmas. I was still under the impression that a 25-cent goldfish did not take an act of congress to secure. In the haste of navigating nursing homes, a global pandemic, a hospital transfer and hospice, I had neglected researching the complexities behind purchasing a simple fish. Standing under the fluorescent lights of the big box pet store, I fought back tears (and some serious anger) as my mind raced to come up with a back-up plan.  

Meantime, my son, ever so resilient, immediately suggested we peruse the pet store aisles for a pet we could take home that afternoon. He guided me blindly up and down the aisles and before we knew it, I was seconds away from making a 2-year commitment and walking out with a hamster. I was all in until my son confirmed that hamster poop was beneath him and that it’d be my responsibility. In that moment, I regained control, fought the holiday crowds and secured four tropical fish, tank, food, and accessories with a few white lies and a lot of grit. We even made it home and had the tank set-up prior to our 3 pm family zoom call.  

 It wasn’t until a few days later that my world came toppling down. Grief is like that. It comes out of nowhere and leaves you trying to find meaning in even the simplest of things. But, this isn’t a post about grief. It is a post about promises.

Why the fish? Because when I make a promise, I keep a promise. I knew with every ounce of my being that I would not leave the Twin Ports Christmas Eve without a fish. But, the problem with promises is that commitment ends as soon as it is with myself. Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to break a promise to your employer, friend, family, volunteer committee or even random acquaintance on Facebook but promises to yourself are the first to go? If you’ve figured that out, let me know. Because I am guilty as charged.

Last week, I had the honor of being a guest on Another Mother Runner podcast. We talked about all sorts of things surrounding my new book, including the simple question – do you really hate running?

The simple answer is yes. But, anyone who knows me, knows that nothing is simple. Nothing is black and white in my world. I hate running but I love the act of running. And, I love that even during a global pandemic, runners get to write their own narrative. You get what you put in. And come race day, your time reflects your effort. In a world where everything it out of one’s control, I can still control putting one foot in front of the other. I had forgotten that for a while… but as I’ve pushed out my book… I’m remembering. And the truth is, I need that right now. Losing dad leaves a big hole in my heart… my calendar… and my future. I always knew my dad was sick but given the man had exceeded nine lives, a part of me believed he would live forever. Even while in hospice, I genuinely went to bed believing that there was a chance I’d go visit him the following morning and he’d be skimming the grocery ads ready to argue about the price of a rib-eye.

So here I am. One month later. If you’re wondering, the fish are thriving. I am not. I’m struggling quite a bit on a lot of fronts right now and I want to be honest about that. I don’t know how I’ll come to terms working in health care when I struggle with how mediocre and cruel the system is to people and their families. I don’t know if I’ll write another book or ever lose the weight or grow professionally. Many of the dreams I set out on to achieve in 2020 – pre-pandemic and pre-grief seem tone deaf to the life I’m living right now. The RISE conference a year ago seems like a lifetime ago. I find myself now with a blank page on what comes next.

For those wondering, yes, I’m back in therapy. I’m also starting to ask myself what’s next. Slowly, I find myself setting new goals that are a bit simpler, yet true to what really matters to me. I’m going to grow a garden of only vegetables and flowers I love. No more zucchini or marigolds and minimal beans. Good bye broccoli. I’m going to learn about rock polishing and shine some Lake Superior treasures. And, I’m going to run a race again.

Yep. This was a very long-winded post to say I’m running again with a real goal in mind. I hope to find myself lining up at the Door Count Half Marathon on May 1 and crossing that finish line in under 3-hours. It is a goal that is now ten-years in the making. It is time. I suppose one could say losing dad was the spark… but that wouldn’t be honest. The truth is, I want this for me.

I want to take the next 13-weeks and train hard. I want to make a promise to myself that I’ve earned the right to be selfish for a few months. To say I need this win after a year of losses. I need to feel like I’m in control of something right now – even if it is just for a few hours on a cold and windy May day. If the race is cancelled, so be it. I’ll find another and then another. And when I cross that finish line, I’ll be reminded that the most important person to keep your promises to is yourself.    

Local Author Shares Love-Hate Relationship with Running in her Debut Book

Iron River resident Beth Probst is a non-athlete. Or so she believes. In 2011, after a few too-many mojitos at a dinner party with friends (remember those?), she decides to give running a try. Logically, she signs up for a half marathon, even though she’s never run a race in her life. And so begins the nearly decade long love-hate relationship with running.

It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running is a candid and at times humorous look at Beth’s running highs and lows, successes and failures, and some tactical tips on how to be a real runner when you feel anything-but. An added bonus, she taps into the wisdom of some of her favorite female running buddies to offer some additional perspectives and advice to help move one from the sidelines to the starting lines.

Of the book, this first-time author says she decided to put herself out there when she realized a gap in the marketplace for the woman who is filled with a lot of insecurities and doubt about running and has only one goal – to cross the finish line upright.

“There is an incredible pressure towards perfect in society,” says Probst. “Running is no exception. When I first laced up, I found countless books that focused on how to run faster, train harder, eat smarter and finish faster. But, for me, the plus-size gal in my 40s, my goal was to just finish while keeping my toenails in-tact. I’ve since crossed the finish line over a dozen times and I still don’t get the alleged runner’s high folks talk about. I figured I wasn’t alone so I thought I’d share my story in hopes in inspires one person questioning if they should run, to just lace up and try.”

Beth never hides the fact that she’s only finished in the back of the pack and had some horrifying running mishaps. But she still keeps showing up. “The great thing about running is you get exactly what you put into it,” she says. “I’ve cut corners on training and ate the frozen pizza the night before a long run—and those mistakes came with consequences. But that’s the thing about life. It is full of choices but they are our choices to make. This book is as much about taking charge of your own narrative as it is about lacing up and hitting the pavement.”

As for who should read this book? The dedication says it all—this book is dedicated to any woman who has felt unworthy… but showed up anyway. “If someone reads this book, I hope they leave with a few resources and tips on how to channel their inner strength – or Sisu – and realize that they have earned a spot at the starting line as much as the person next to them. That’s the heart and soul of this story. And better yet, I hope they even laugh a little.”

It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running is available locally at Solstice Outdoors in Ashland, Honest Dog Books in Bayfield, Drury Lane in Grand Marais, and Redberry Books in Bayfield. Or, to purchase online visit: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=It-Could-Be-Worse

When all you have is words…

The decision was made in an instant but years in the making. “I love you girls but I cannot keep fighting. Please don’t be mad.”

A glance at the nurse and a plea. “Please. I just want to go in peace.”

Suddenly we are out of time. After years of ups and downs navigating a broken health care system watching my dad fight for his life – and win; and advocating for his life more times than I can count, the decision is made. My sister and I advocate for him one last time. We watch dad initiate hospice and support him with all of our heart while feeling a piece of our heart break. He signs the papers instantly. He cannot nor should he suffer for another second in a system where folks fight to keep him alive, regardless of the physical pain he endures and his desire to die. He is ready.

He tells my sister and I he’s proud of us one last time in a sterile hospital room. A man of few words, he couldn’t have chosen a better book ending to a complicated yet rich life. I do not know it at the time, but I will not see him conscious again.

I should have seen this coming. In my head, I had prepared for it over and over again. I had made time for visits, listened to my dad’s endless stories and jokes, and sought therapy to help navigate the struggles of an aging parent. I had worked through my anger surrounding an amputation and a healthcare system that never understood my father. I had resolved all of the what ifs in my life – the times growing up where I was too busy pursuing my dreams that I missed the simple things. You know… the weekend fishing trips, county fairs, camping, phone calls and lunches. I spent the last ten years making up for those moments. I said everything that needed to be said. But yet, I still find myself in this moment, completely lost. Caught in the in-between. The part where you pray for a quick ending but guilt bubbles up and challenges why you would actually wish your father dead. A friend who knows grief all to well reminded me there is a difference between honoring your dad’s wishes and accepting them. 

Later on, I find myself alone in the hospice room watching my dad gasp for air. COVID-19 has added a logistical layer of complications in saying good-bye. Science says my dad is on enough morphine that he is comfortable. My heart says he knows I am here. Here. Sharing one last moment with dad.

I choose to use this moment to remember. I remember our fishing opener trips – including the time I was so engrossed in my book that a fish pulled my rod into the lake before I noticed I had caught it. Somehow dad managed to retrieve the rod (with a very tired fish on it). I remember my one successful day of fishing catching Sunnies with dad and how delicious his pan-fried fish tastes. I remember our annual camping trip including the year my girlfriend and I snuck out to meet boys on the beach. My mom had to let us know she knew while my dad just gave us that look. You know – the one dad gives that say a thousand words. It was the same look he gave when I flicked matches into his ice shanty and got removed from a little league softball game for being sassy.  

I remember arguing over the cost of a good steak, grapes and a 12-pack of diet coke more than once. I remember the endless conversations about weather where only Google could resolve the temperature differences between Cloquet and Iron River. I remember arguing just to argue and then argue about why we were arguing. My dad loved a good debate about nothing. That trait lives on in me.

I remember the endless days of playing ball growing up. Or, how dad would patiently watch me twirl baton, doing his best not to comment on the fact that I was destroying the lawn with my endless pivots in a quest to land that double turn around. I remember helping him plant his garden and sharing that first ripe summer sweet pea. I remember our trips to the Chicken Swap that resulted in unconventional pets and dad buying me a mule named Goldie and trying to pass her off as a pony because I was sad the pony I had wanted got purchased before we could buy him.

And then there was the advice. I remember dad lecturing me on how I didn’t need another degree to feel smart or that changing jobs wouldn’t make me happy. That a job is called that for a reason. I remember my wedding day where after our father-daughter dance he simply said, I hope he makes you happy and if he does, I’m happy for you. Or, the time he casually asked if I knew how babies were made when he felt I was taking too long to make him a grandpa again. I was 34 at the time.

I remember dad telling me he missed mom too when he knew I was sad. I remember dad walking me down a makeshift aisle at my wedding and holding my son after he was born. I remember him helping me pack for college, see me off to Oxford and inspect my first home. In every critical moment, dad was always there on the sidelines rooting for my success.  He’s been the constant in my life. For 42-years, every major milestone has been marked by dad encouraging me to pursue my dreams.

These memories and thousands more will carry me forward. This morning he passed peacefully. And now the waiting is over, replaced with grief. Grief is a crazy beast I’m all too familiar with. A new void in my life no one can ever fill. There will be no story big enough, no fish large enough, or joke bad enough to replace the man who made me. But in this moment, I’m thanking a higher power that dad’s struggles are done and that he’s reunited with mom in time for Christmas. Heaven gained another angel this Christmas and left a hole in my heart. But for now, I will find comfort in remembering and knowing that my dad’s stubborn spirit lives on in the family he created. Not even grief can take that away.    

Call Your Shot

I finally did it. I wrote a book. A book dedicated to any woman who has felt unworthy… but showed up anyway. In other words, gals like me. The book is technically about running – hence the title: It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running. But as I say in my into:

This book is about finishing. It is not about winning a race, enhancing your performance or setting a new world record by utilizing some ultra-hip training plan.  This is simply a book of tips, tricks and tales about what happens when you want to be a runner and…

In other words, running is not central to your breathing. You are a strong believer that running is a means to an end. That running is exercise. That the running culture is cool and you aren’t sure that you have a place within it, but you want to show up anyway. You don’t know where to start. More importantly, you don’t know if you belong or have earned the right to show up.

For years, I’ve let myself believe that I’m not ready to be an author. That I somehow have not earned the right to pen my story because of a whole slew of reasons including lack of education, lack of writing experience, lack of life experience… the list goes on and on. Surprisingly, I have a similar list for why for years I didn’t call myself a runner. I also believed that in order to write a book about running, I’d need to either become a really good writer or a really good runner. Newsflash – I am neither.

But, that’s the point. This book is as much about insecurities and the power of acknowledging it is ok to just be ok at something (or even mediocre) as it is about the tips I give so you don’t shit your pants before a run or lose a toe-nail. And I truly believe in a world of overly polished posts and perfection, the world needs more of the messy truth.

So folks, this is me being messy. This is me putting myself out there and sharing my running journey. The highs and lows, and the tears, laughs, mishaps and miracles I’ve experienced along the way. If you are a runner, you may find comfort, humor and/or pity in my story. If you for even a second want to be a runner but are scared to lace up, I hope you find some courage in these pages.

At the end of the day, this story is as much about me putting myself out there as asking you to take a chance on this first-time self-published author. I hope you’ll consider buying my book, reviewing it, and even sharing it with a friend.

To buy my book online visit: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=It-Could-Be-Worse

Or, a few shops are carrying my book locally. Check out the buy my book section on this website for a listing.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some additional excerpts from my book, along with some of the incredible essays my favorite running pals penned for me. Their stories are equally if not more amazing.

Two Yooper days, one book, and a lifetime of insecurities.

I’m on my annual fall one-night get-away in which I contemplate all things life while driving and hiking back roads with my trusty D-SLR slung on my shoulder. It is a lot to tackle in 24-hours but it is on these trails where a 3-4 hour hike feels like a lifetime. It is crazy how easy binge watching a season of Gilmore Girls is compared to hiking straight uphill for a mere 15-20 minutes. I digress. I am going to share this one quick snapshot for history/tree buffs. This is from the rotted out inside of a white pine that snapped off about 60 feet in the air. It involved a lot of crawling in mud to get but sort of cool when you think about it.

But, back to the reason I’m popping on here today. The reason I’m writing today is I’ve found if I put something on the internet it happens. So here we go. I wrote a book. And then in the heat of editing, I almost shelved it. Yep. That’s right. I set out to write a book. I finally did. And, while that was my only goal, I’d be lying if many moons ago I thought I’d someday be a best-selling author. I think it was about the time I read my first Danielle Steel novel and contemplated what it’d be like to have millions of folks read my words. It sounded so glamorous and exciting. And since then, I’ve always wondered what. Keep in mind this is the same girl that once thought it’d also be cool to be Mary Lou Retton despite not being able to land a somersault or complete a cartwheel.

Fast forward about 30-years and here we are. This book – It could be worse: A girlfriend’s guide for runners who despise running will not top the NYT chart or frankly any chart. I know that, and frankly given some of the more embarrassing but authentic running accounts I share, I’m a bit mortified to think of what would happen if more than close family and friends read this.

That said, I’m human. Humans like to succeed. They like to feel like what they do matters. It is hard to pen a book and put it out into the universe knowing that best case scenario it will fail by all accounts. Yesterday, on the back roads of the UP, I played over and over all of the insecurities that come with putting yourself out there. How intimidating it is to share something so personal. But even worse, how intimidating to put something out there and have nobody even care.

But here’s the thing. This book is actually all about insecurities. My whole reason for running was to prove to some imaginary people in my head that fat people can in fact run. That just because I have some extra padding, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to choose the life I want. And part of that life is sharing my narrative… for better or worse. (This seriously frightens my husband but here’s the thing, don’t marry a women who chalks up writing as one of her top hobbies if you don’t want your life being on the internet).

So, after talking to myself and an unusually large and fearless doe chomping on some acorns on Brockway Mountain, I’ve talked myself off the ledge. I am plowing full steam ahead. This book will live on Amazon.com in perpetuity, (or until Jeff Bezos decides independent authors aren’t cool enough) and maybe even appear in a few independent book stores. I will share personal insecurities that maybe I don’t want the world to know, but frankly who cares. If this pandemic has taught me nothing else, it is that life is too short to live in regret. That at this point, I’d rather be a failed first-time author than no author at all.

Expect more posts in the coming months about this first time author putting herself out there. You’ll hear about my cover journey which includes the tough (not really) decision to not feature my fat ass on the cover… although I give 100% love and kudos to my designer who suggested the title Running Behind. I’ll share free excerpts, resources that have helped me run, and some very cool essays from some amazing friends who are contributing their words of wisdom to my cause. My only hope is that if you find any nugget of use, you share this with someone else. I hope to have more information about release date in the next month.

All in all, this book is a labor of love. That’s what it should be. A mere opportunity to put myself out there once again in hopes that someone, somewhere might read it and say if she can do it, so can I. Another attempt to give myself some grace so that I don’t miss out on an amazing opportunity to fulfill a lifetime dream. And, because frankly 2020 will not be remembered as the year COVID-19 kicked me on the ass but instead the year I dug deep and kicked back.

Lucky 7 Anyone?

I’m interrupting mom’s year of self-discovery to talk about the most important thing in her life – me. Yep, Jake from Moon Lake is back and hijacking mom’s blog for a quick update on the year I was 6.

A year ago, I rang in my birthday with a football themed party at the Community Center. I sported a new Tiger’s jersey proclaiming my love for roughhousing and mom’s dream of me someday becoming QB1. Life was simpler than.

I kicked off first grade by learning how to read… really good. It turns out I’m also really good at math. I love counting and for whatever reason, it was easy for me to add things up in my head. Some days I even surprised Mrs. Graff with my quick draw addition. Art on the other hand… well we all have our weaknesses. Coloring just isn’t my jazz, you know?

Speaking of Jazz, I love a good jingle. Mom gave me her Alexa this past year and I’ve been using it to play some of my favorites – Old Town Road, Blah blah blah, Pizza Man and Feed Jake. What can I say – I’m a country boy at heart who loves his Sponge Bob.

Which reminds me, mom got chickens again. I’ll be honest… I’m just not into them.  Other than the occasional chase, I’ve found I’m much more into domesticated pets like my best pal Joey. I did like playing cowboy for Halloween, though. For a brief moment, I even considered a profession in bull riding. Turns out, cow butts stink, so for now, I’m tabling that one.

As fall turned into winter, I tuned up my wrestling skills. Dad laid the smack down this year and said if I wanted to do tournaments, I had to go to practice. It turns out if you practice, you actually get better at wrestling. I was doing really well, even managed to place in a few tournaments, and then our world turned upside down.

It was time for spring break. We were about to jump on-board to head to South Carolina for a week-long get away on the ocean. I was gearing up to catch my first big salt-water fish and maybe try a handline. And then… everything changed. COVID-19 hit hard in March. School shutdown. Our vacation was cancelled. My friends could no longer come over to play. Baseball season was a no-go. I’ll admit, COVID-19 really cramped my style.

It turns out we had it pretty lucky, though. Mom and dad kept their job. They worked out an arrangement so I could do schooling in the morning virtually and then have my besties mom watch me in the afternoon. It is working out pretty well. I finished the school year strong and got to play with my buddy Nolan. Meantime, mom and dad got to keep working which meant they could take time off this summer for some family adventures.

Can we say cabin time? As soon as temperatures warmed up, we headed to the green cabin. I’ve had quite a few weekend adventures there including mastering tubing and knee boarding. I even tried water skiing (unsuccessfully) in July. This makes me the YOUNGEST Probst to ever try. And who knows, I may even get up this summer still. I’ve abandoned fishing for now but that’s partially because I am a fish now. Yep, early on in COVID-19, I mastered swimming at Moon Lake. I can now swim, float, do somersaults off the dock, cannonball off our pontoon and stay under water long enough that mom thinks I’m drowning.

I took advantage of COVID-19 to master my bike skills. The training wheels came off, I outgrew my kiddie bike and am now hoping for a new BMX bike. A new Dollar General went up in town and for over a month I used their newly paved (but abandoned) parking lot to master my technique. I even hit up a new bike park in Cable.

Our other summer adventures included mini golfing, meeting Paul Bunyan, go karting and exploring area lakes thanks to a new pontoon trailer paid for with stimulus money. Things got so crazy I actually went swimming in Lake Superior and Moon Lake… in April!

Dad gave me my first pocket knife and mom lets me light candles when she’s watching. Dad also keeps bringing me to the workshop where I get to play with sharp tools and learn about woodworking.

The two neighbor gals got gas powered four wheelers but after much debate, I’m gunning for a Chrome book and hacker mask instead. It isn’t the same but mom and dad are trying to teach me to be responsible about money. I also really love my screen time… when I’m not doing karate with dad or beating mom up.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to hear my school is opening up. I miss hanging out with my friends on a daily basis, eating uncrustable PB&Js, and winning a mean game of dodgeball in gym. It’ll be different wearing a mask everywhere I go but different is alright I guess. If nothing else, it keeps life on Moon Lake interesting.

And that my friends is the latest from Jake at Moon Lake. Until I’m back to report on how Lucky 7 went, enjoy your day!

Bring on the Chaos

So here we are… July. The year if half-over. WTF happened? I started the year with such good intentions. So focused. So prioritized. This was going to be my year. I’ll be frank. The pandemic has been disruptive to say the least. A serious distraction. Throw in some crucial conversations and reflections about the privilege I am surrounded by and it is hard to keep perspective, experience any traction or progress forward.

I left RISE in January with a promise to give myself grace. I’m batting maybe 50/50 on a good day. But, isn’t awareness part of the journey? This past month I took a time out to head to Marquette to just think. I spent 48-hours reflecting on my writing, my career, my life, and frankly, what’s next. I left more confused than ever (although I did crank out a few more chapters of my book). With all of that said, I am making progress on one thing – embracing chaos.

Chaos is not my thing. I’m a planner. I love to do lists and planning vacations and checking off boxes. I’ve been known to make an itinerary of my chores or task list for the day, complete with bathroom breaks to feel as though I accomplished something. Now, I spend my days assuming they are going to blow up in my face. That things are going to go awry. And you know what? As much as I don’t love it, I’m starting to embrace it.

So, as I turn the page on the second half of MY year, I’m doing my best to find time in the chaos to write. To hike. To exchange meaningful conversations with those I love. To dream. But, I’m also trying to live in the chaos that is my new norm. To acknowledge that the unknown isn’t always bad… just different.

It’ll be interesting if/when we ever turn the page on this pandemic. If we/I squander the lessons learned from these tough but livable times. In the meantime, I keep writing the book. One sentence at a time. I may not hit my milestone deadlines or check the chapters off as finished in a timely fashion. But movement is movement. And somewhere in the chaos, some stories are unfolding that I want to share with the world, even if nobody in the world wants to read them. Stay tuned… a book is on the way.

Winning Matters

dream-big-start-small-but-most-of-all-start-quote-1Let’s be honest for a minute. I am one of the most competitive people on the planet. I love to win. In fact, for years I’ve told myself the reason I keep running is because I absolutely suck at it and somehow that will teach me that sometimes you do stuff, just to have fun (even though it isn’t a lot of fun).  Lately, I haven’t been winning much of anything. Because if I’m being 100 percent honest, the pandemic threw me hard.

What does that mean? It means I like to be in control. I like to make plans and execute plans and check things off my to do list and manage things. I’m good at that. But, a pandemic thrown at you two days before you are supposed to go on your annual vacation doesn’t really allow for that. Your son’s school suddenly closing on a moment’s notice… when you can barely parent let alone teach is tough. Your teammate taking FMLA and a series of unanticipated grants dropping in your lap is difficult to navigate when frankly your struggling to motivate yourself to take a shower. Grocery lists for stores that lack groceries doesn’t really equate to much.

As these items were fired at me, I did my best to remember Rise Ft. Meyers. Remember that? Just four months ago I flew to Florida and declared the word grace as my word for 2020. Who the fuck knew that I’d need that word more than ever. But, as the pandemic continues, I don’t find solace in that word. I find defeat. How much grace do I have to give myself before I find some sense of normalcy?

In my quest to try to figure shit out, I reread one of my favorite marketing books – Start with Why by Simon Sinek. If you’ve never read it, please do. Or, at least watch his Ted Talk. Even if you aren’t into marketing, there is a lot of wisdom in it. It has been years since I’ve read this book and this time, I was more focused on me than how I approach marketing campaigns. I thought maybe I needed to rediscover my why. And, it was during this re-read that I stumbled across a line that was more than relevant to my life right now… Simon says, “No one likes to lose and most healthy people live their life to win. The only variation is the score we use… The metric is relative but the desire is the same.”

Let me say it again for the folks in the back… most people live their life to win. The only variation is the score we use. It made me realize that right now, I need to modify my score card a bit. It isn’t so much about giving myself grace for screwing up, but instead reminding myself of what matters and how I’m keeping score of it.

So what do I write down everyday that matters to me?

Jake knowing I love him unconditionally. Grow something in my garden. Earn the respect of my co-workers. Retire at 55. Self-publishing a book. Practice gratitude everyday. Spend quality time with my father. Manage my weight. Beat my Grandma’s PR. Maximize a growth mindset.

These are just some of the things I strive for… these are the marks that I keep dibs on. And right now, some of these are a big stretch for me. But what Simon reminded me of today is how I keep score matters. Am I scoring my parenting ability on the meals I make Jake for dinner… or for showing up as him mom, every single day. Am I gauging success on what Parenting Magazine says my kid needs for nutrition or on the fact that we laughed so hard I almost wet myself? Because if it is the latter of the two, I’m crushing that goal. The first, not so much.

Am I a self-published author? Not yet. Did I miss my April writing goal? Yep. But am I further along on writing a book than I ever have been before? Yep. Do I know without a doubt that this darn thing will be published even if nobody buys it. Yep. Am I committed to keep plugging away, one word at a time. Yep.

Am I struggling to keep a positive attitude during this time period? Hell yeah. But is the mark my daily attitude or the fact that I keep showing up every single day and am at least trying?

In other words, I know my why. I’m someone who has invested a lot of time in understanding what makes me tick… and even so, still find myself at least questioning if I’m still on-course. And, it turns out, my desire to win isn’t unique but instead totally normal. But, what I do know is sometimes how we’re keeping score isn’t so easy. How we determine if we’re living up to our why can be disguised or temporarily misplaced or lost in the shuffle of just trying to get through the day or making the poor mistake of comparing our score to someone else’s.

This weekend I took a step back and allowed myself to reallocate my scorecard. Did I love on my son? Am I saving money? Am I showing up for my co-workers and doing my work? Am I putting healthy food (along with the snacks) in my body? Am I getting outside and moving my legs? Am I carving out moments to peck away at my book? These are all things I can control, even in a world that seems so out of control right now. But it is these little wins that matter folks. And it is these races I intend to win next month.

I have no clue what chaos comes with a new calendar month. But all I do know is even that can’t shake my why.

And then this happened…

hollisTwo months ago, I was diligently taking notes as Dave Hollis educated this pragmatic planner on how I was made for more and how I could get out of my own way. As I scribbled notes, I added pre-order his book to my to-do list and soaked in all of the things that might get in the way. The list was solid – those who love me not understanding how this conference changed me, my fears, individuals who shouldn’t be do make their way into my headspace, the day-to-day distractions that consume my time but aren’t in life with the vision I’m creating for myself. It was a nice solid list. And, like a good rule follower, I made a plan… that even included discontinuing Apple News and all of the smut magazine reading I’ve thoroughly enjoyed for years.

I started to write a book. I started making small changes to my diet. I was more conscious of whose opinion I let in. For two months, I did well. And then, COVID-19 hit. This was not on Dave’s list. To say it has uprooted day-to-day life is an understatement. To say my healthy habits extended to including mini Cadbury eggs wouldn’t be a complete lie. In a single week our spring break was cancelled, my office moved home, my dad landed in the hospital and now needs additional care and my child’s school was postponed indefinitely. This is nothing compared to what many of my friends and family are going through but for just a minute, I just quit caring. I ordered spanx leggings. I “forgot” to wash my hair. I enjoyed quite the pity party that involved top the tater.

But here’s the thing. The little voice that says “made for more” (or the hat that’s sitting on my desk staring at me) is screaming out more than ever. I’m a solid 5 chapters into the rough draft of my book. That’s a third of a book. And now that there are real words on paper and an outline and a purpose, it is a lot harder to walk away. I find myself doubling down on gratitude and discovering how blessed I am to live where I live, have the job I have, and the family and friend supports. It is hard to feel anxious or sad when you add those items to the mix. In other words, the tools I learned at RISE Fort Meyers couldn’t be more relevant than they are in this moment.

So for now, I’m drinking the darn water alone. I’m going for walks and runs – either outside or on my treadmill. I bought a book of postcards to send handwritten notes to friends. I’m doing my best to put down technology in the evening to play with my kid. I’m listening to the birds and allowing myself to see the humor in the stupid red squirrel that has figured out how to maneuver himself into our squirrel proof feeder. And most importantly of all, I’m giving myself some grace when I eat the mini Cadbury eggs.

Harvard Business Review posted an article today about grief. It took me a minute to connect that so many of my feelings right now are a result of anticipatory grief. AKA the fear of the unknown and the disruption in our normal life that feels like actual loss. Today I emailed my former office mates the article because I miss them dearly. In our commitment to social distancing, working from home is a small price to pay but it doesn’t change the loss or grief we are feeling. Somehow the geek in me finds comfort in knowing that these abnormal feelings are in fact normal.

So today, I’m reminding myself to practice giving myself grace and to remember that perspective matters more than ever. If you had told me two months ago a pandemic would turn my life upside down, I would have laughed. But today, I can proudly say, if ever there was a time to be made for more… to show up for life… to make things count… it is now. And that my friends, is my latest Rise Fort Myers update.