Hello 40!

yourlifeDo you honestly think a writer would let her 40th birthday pass without spewing some thoughts about the day? Here’s the thing, I’m struggling a bit to really shine in this major moment. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to interview some healthcare workers for a campaign I’m working on. During one of the interviews, someone shared a patient story about an elderly lady who said, “You know what the hardest part about being old is? That when I look in a mirror, I see a 30-year old but everyone else just sees an old lady.”

This really resonated with me not because I’m an old lady by any means, but this week I realized just how often we’re judged by our age. Not necessarily good or bad, but rather just educated on how we’re either too young or really old or in some cases both. But here’s the thing, I’m just not buying it.

I assumed given my dramatic quarter-life crisis and then thriving thirties struggle, that 40 would play out like a really bad Lifetime movie. If ever there were a year to have an existential crisis, this would be it. But, if I’m being completely honest, while I did have that brief breakdown on Pinterest in which I attempted to define my life’s meaning with inspirational quotes and unattainable Bucket List items because the pictures were pretty, it passed. In fact, it passed pretty quickly and now suddenly I’m sitting here on St. Urho’s Eve looking at middle age with a new found appreciation and perspective.

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These first 40 years have been a shit storm of highs and lows that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I earned every inch of the massive crevice of a wrinkle on my forehead overcoming the obstacles thrown my way (and conquered). Those crow’s feet are the result of being blessed with amazing friends who make me laugh so hard my stomachs hurt and my face crinkles. And those stretch marks that span my waistline paved the way for the greatest achievement and challenge of my life—motherhood.

So yes, tomorrow, I turn 40. I’ll pay more for Life Insurance and modify my retirement plan. My metabolism will diminish overnight and I’ll probably spend a bit more time strength training and a little less time with chips and top the tater. But honestly, that’s about all the craziness I can squeeze out of this middle-age milestone. Because when all is said and done, I’m simply happy to be here in this moment.

If you are reading this right now, it means you have somehow played a role in my first 40-years and for that, thank you. The one piece of wisdom I have tonight is I know very little—but what I do know is that the people in my life matter. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without you. What’s equally exciting is I have never been more in the driver’s seat of my own life than right now. I’ve finally reached a place where I am confident saying I’m a work-in-progress but it is my work in progress. So here’s to a new decade and life of living on my terms and to all women who are finding it within themselves to do the same. May we all be so lucky to enjoy so many more trips around the sun.

grandsabbatical

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Training Update: What am I thinking?

Confused? The idea for my first VLOG came about due to an upcoming assignment.

Next week I’m heading out to the Michigan Ice Fest in Munising. I’m going ice climbing. And no, that’s not a typo. This should be relatively amusing, in part because I’m not a huge fan of cold and I’m afraid of heights. That said, I love a solid adventure, the outdoors and the UP, so I figured when else would I try this if not now. In addition to my standard writing and photography, I’m also shooting video.

Today, I spent some time familiarizing myself with my new GoPro. And, because I’m a total dork, I thought I’d share some behind the scenes suffering of me training for my upcoming race in May. Don’t worry, I won’t inundate you with shots of my legs in spandex over this series of posts I plan to share. But, I do hope to share some of the beauty I see on the trails (once I’m outside) and a little bit about why I run and how tough it is for someone my size to build speed and endurance. Regardless of these challenges, I plan to keep slogging away.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a girl’s weekend in the UP. I’ve carefully plotted out coffee stops to fuel my way through something that’s totally outside of my element. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of shots and maybe even a few stories to share from my adventure.

Survival Mode

The countdown is on. In less than one month, thousands of runners will lace up their shoes and hit the tri-county corridor to complete the Whistlestop. Since giving birth 13-months ago, I assumed I’d be among them. In April, I completed a warm-up half-marathon despite a polar vortex and countless other obstacles. I was unstoppable when I crossed that finish line. I set new goals and had every intention of setting a new personal best this fall.

The path to success seemed so obvious. Lose weight. Train hard. Show-up. Achieve goal. I started strong. As someone who thrives on organized chaos, my goals seemed manageable. I updated my to do list factoring in my new goals and kept plugging ahead. Then, life happened.

I’m not sure how I went from organized chaos to overwhelmed mess. Somewhere between a foot injury in mid-July to typing this today, I lost my way. My diet derailed. My training became non-existent. My immediate to-do list trumped finding time to get out and run. Tomorrow never happened. By mid-August, I acknowledged the half-marathon needed to be a 10K. Then, life happened again. This time, an unexpected lingering illness knocked my desire to run. My body shut down. It became easier to make excuses than push through and run. At some point, the obvious path to success became an unbearable burden.

Last week, I acknowledged a 10K wasn’t in my cards on October 11. My consolation goal wasn’t achievable. In many respects, running rejected me. Truth be told, I’m disappointed. But, I’m picking myself up and moving on.

I’m not sure where I go from here. This week, I put on my running shoes, cranked up my Ipod and headed out with no goal other than to run until I didn’t feel like running anymore. When I was tired, I stopped. I walked. I took in the fresh fall air and acknowledged that some things are beyond my control. I caught my breath, I ran some more. It felt amazing. I don’t know if this will equate to lining up for another race at some point. I do know that the pressure of a race right now won’t motivate me. If anything, it’ll break me. So for now, I’ll run for fun until it isn’t fun anymore. If I find myself longing to line up at a starting line, I’ll put together a plan and do it. I’ve done it before. I can do it again. But, it needs to be on my terms and my timeline.

Meantime, I’m returning back to the basics. First on that list, get back on track. Block off time to enjoy all that fall has to offer. Hike. Take pictures. Enjoy some family time at home and on the road. Say no to new freelance. Utilize my vacation. Plant garlic. Fertilize my garden. Keep breathing. And from there, who knows where life will take the Probst family.

Back of the Pack: Run for the Lakes Both Humbling and Inspirational

bethSaturday marked my 4th Half-Marathon. It was my first race post baby. Training revolved around teething, sleepless nights, never-ending illnesses, pregnancy gut and this lovely thing called a Polar Vortex. One week before the race, I was driving through a fresh foot of snow. Two days before the race, I was slipping and sliding along ice and slush covered roads in yet another Winter Storm Warning. Last but not least, my interpretation from the racecourse description was that this would be a relatively flat, scenic course. Instead, I was greeted with miles of rolling hills, an open-road course complete with exhaust fumes from cars whizzing by, scenic views of residential streets and overzealous 10k runners who shared the first 5-miles of the course after starting a mere 15-minutes after the half-marathon start time.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. After a few miles, I accepted the course was going to be endless hills and that as long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other, at some point it’d have to end. My legs adjusted accordingly. Somewhere along the way I found my rhythm. My first mile took 17.5 minutes. My last 3 I was pacing 13:30 and I could have pushed myself harder. As I rounded the last corner and crossed the finish line I saw my husband snapping photos. A college friend stood near by clapping. It felt good. I glanced at the clock to discover I finished above where I expected. But nowhere near what I wanted.

It wasn’t until later that day that I finally logged onto the website to get the down and dirty. I finished in second to last place. My time was 45 seconds faster than my last race but not a PR. By all accounts, I should have been happy with my performance. I mean, a fat girl jogging 13.1 miles is nothing to look down on.

But that’s the thing. I don’t want to be the fat girl in the back anymore. I want to be the large girl in the middle back. I don’t mind finishing at a below average time as long as I’m personally improving. Truth is, for this to happen I need to start looking at my entire body and not just logging miles every week to justify the frozen pizza my husband and I used to enjoy on weekends. I know this isn’t brain surgery. But I’ve discovered that knowing this and doing it are two different things.

I have also learned that if I share something in writing, I tend to show-up and play the game to speak. Run for the Lakes was my low point at a high weight. It was inspirational to cross that finish line but frustrating to know my time would have been substantially faster if I was carrying around less padding. While training was tough this go around, I trained hard and honest. I showed up on race day ready to run. I pushed myself. But, that’s only a portion of the equation.

Because proud mamas find ways to post pics of their kid, even when it has nothing to do with what they are writing about.
Because proud mamas find ways to post pics of their kid, even when it has nothing to do with what they are writing about.

So today I share with the few folks that read this blog my latest goal. It is about focusing on my entire body. It is somewhat about the scale but more about being conscious about the choices I make that affect my weight. I’m using a light version of Body for Life. I’m finishing up week 3 and have lost 8 pounds so far and am concentrating on rebuilding muscles in my core and upper body. I plan to focus on this for the next 10-weeks, while filling in my trainings with cardio and continued short runs. In July, I’ll start training for the Whistlestop this fall and a 10K in Auust in Herbster. My dream finish time is 2:44, or 39 minutes (3 minutes per mile) faster than my last race. At the minimum, I have to break 3-hours. No excuses. Just time to make this happen.

To keep myself honest, I may bore you with monthly check-ins on my progress. Wish me luck… share any tips you might have… resources… inspiration. I’ll take any and all of it.

In the meantime, the calendar has finally turned to May. This means my favorite greenhouse in the world is open – Hauser’s! I’m taking Jake there this weekend for his first gardening adventure. I need to replace the asparagus and several perennials that didn’t survive the hot summer sun and my bed rest last summer (AKA as no water for 2-3 weeks).

Hope to share more about this adventure and life in the Northwoods moving forward. As always, thanks for reading!

Resolutions Suck

Resolutions. How can one simple word be so loaded? Resolutions often result in empty promises of losing weight, eating healthy, exercising and being an overall better person. It signals us highlighting our weaknesses and focusing on how what we are currently doing isn’t good enough.

Last year I attempted to buck the trend of setting resolutions by setting the bar low.  Guess what? I still failed. I have yet to publish my book. I backed off on volunteering in the community. I weigh a mere 4 pounds less this year than I did last year at this time. I had the worse garden on record. I continued to believe the best in people, despite discovering that some people don’t deserve this kindness. And, despite an incredible week long vacation in Washington, D.C. my 2013 list of places to see remains primarily unchecked.

By all accounts, this past year was a failure. Except it wasn’t. In mid-January, just days after setting my goals, I was handed a curveball. Remember this?

In an instant everything changed. My priorities changed. My goals changed. My resolutions became a distant memory. And, despite my best attempt at planning, I have since discovered that no matter how much I lower the bar, it won’t be enough.

So I’m taking yet another approach at setting goals. This year’s goal—expect the unexpected. Go with the flow. Recognize that the next year might be about survival. Life may revolve around changing diapers, teething, first steps and making the most of each moment with Jacob of Moon Lake.  And frankly, that’s pretty amazing.

This year won’t be about me. I won’t make major self-improvements. Instead, I will be reminded time and time again that I have no idea what I’m doing as a mother. And each time this happens, I will smile because the one thing I wanted more than anything in life has happened. I am in fact a mother.

Last but not least, I am setting one concrete goal. In April I hope to run my first half-marathon since having Jake. There I’ve put it in writing. I am running again. And guess what. I am scared to death. I am out of shape. I seriously question whether I’ll be able to finish. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll find time to train. Each time I step on the treadmill, my head is filled with self-doubt.

But, each time I finish a training session, there is a glimmer of hope. That little voice from the depths of my soul that whispers maybe I can, despite my head shouting I cannot. I don’t know who will win or what the future holds. But, I do know I’m going to try. If I fail, so be it. It’ll just be one more item to blog about.

Merry Christmas from Moon Lake

merrychristmaswebHello! It is Jacob of Moon Lake again. I hijacked mom’s blog again so I could send you my Christmas letter. I’m not sure how I feel about the photo but I’m guessing the ladies will dig it. What’s there about me not to love? Just don’t ask mom this question at 2 am when I decide to show my less happy side. Don’t hate on me. I don’t plan these growth spurts. And when I’m hungry, I’m hungry. Anyways, I digress.

Back to my letter. It is crazy to think of everything that has happened in the past year. You know a year ago, I was sitting in my mom’s stomach wondering exactly when she was going to acknowledge my presence. She kept making up these odd excuses. But frankly, I think she knew. Sure, she probably didn’t want to get her hopes up. Can you blame her? I wasn’t around pre-me (duh), but I have been around when she’s reminded me I’m her miracle baby and how grateful she is to have me in her life. I think that makes this Christmas extra special. But I have a hunch that every mom thinks their baby is a miracle (only I really am folks).

lovesantaI only mention this because it ties to my Christmas message of please believe. Believe in what? I’m not quite sure. I’m only 4-months old and am still figuring out the whole faith thing. But, I do know that I’ll totally believe in a fat red guy fitting down our miniscule chimney if it scores me presents each year. I even have a shirt to prove it. And, I don’t ever want to stop believing that someday we’ll live in a world where the milk flows endlessly, we alternate round the clock between playtime, nap time and dinner time, and no single kids goes without daily hugs and kisses from folks that love them to the moon and back again. We’re not there, yet. Not even close. And that makes it hard to keep believing. But, I’m going to try. And, I’m going to do my part to make sure it happens. I hugseven started by kissing the neighbor girl…and flirting with a gal at my first Happy Hour (Yeah, I totally have game). I hope you’ll consider the same (not kissing the neighbor girl but doing your part to make the world a better place). I know mom and dad try to live this way, even when it at times can be very, very discouraging. But, that doesn’t stop them from trying.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. May you fine time to indulge in too many cookies (eat one for me, please), drink too much milk, laugh until your stomach hurts, stay up too late telling stories with those you love,remembering what matters most not only at Christmas but all-year round and finding a place in your heart to believe in the unbelievable.

Live life, laugh lots, and love forever,

Jacob of Moon Lake

So much to be thankful for…

jacobThis year, it is easy for me to give thanks. I’ve enjoyed a year that is full of blessings, including the birth of Jacob of Moon Lake. It is amazing to me how someone so little can insert so much energy and wisdom into one’s life, along with an awesome sense of gratitude to those around me.

He taught me, prior to being born, that I should slow down and be present in the moment. There is nothing wrong with an afternoon nap. And, ice cream for dinner is totally acceptable… on occasion. Too often, and he dealt me a blow of heartburn so bad I was quickly reminded that everything in life is better in moderation.

Since his birth, he has taught me to expect the unexpected. Material things don’t matter—especially when attempting to wear clean clothes to work. Sometimes the best things in life are really, really difficult (aka 2 am feedings). A simple smile can literally light up an entire room. And, there is nothing more powerful than the grasp of a hand or the hint of a smile meant just for you. Once again, human connection conquers all.

It is an awesome responsibility to know that you are responsible for someone’s life. At times, overwhelming. But, it is in these moments where I realize I am far from alone. In addition to being blessed with an amazing son, I am blessed to be surrounded by a village of kind, caring, compassionate friends, family, colleagues and mere acquaintances (also known as Facebook moms) and of course my soul mate. It is these people who never hesitate to lend a helping hand, hug, or simple words of encouragement.

This past year, time and time again, people have found time in their busy schedules to help me. And this thanksgiving, I want to say Thank You. Thanks for being a part of this tumultuous, exhilarating, exciting, ever changing journey of motherhood. I have no idea where the next 20, 30, 40 years will take me… heck I don’t know where tomorrow will take me. But, I do know it’ll all be ok thanks to the amazing people I am blessed to have in my life.

So to everyone who has or will be part of my journey, Thank You! I wish you nothing but a lifetime of unexpected experiences that bring joy to your life!

Happy Thanksgiving!