2016 Was Tough… But So Are We

We’ve all had some beef (understatement) with the year known as 2016, but some really great things happened as well. So for this post, rather than focusing on the sad, we are doing our best to count our collective blessings and looking forward to what 2017 has in store (and maybe give 2016 a few parting shots, because how can we not?).

This year. Man. I thought it was bad when Alan Rickman died, and then again when Gene Wilder left, and even again when the election happened, but this week? Woof. I feel as though 2016 has just taken my heart and stomped it into tiny little pieces. Carrie Fisher was my first spirit animal and the only princess I ever cared about wanting to be.

But, I digress. This post is supposed to be happy. And in the shit year that shall forever be remember as 2016, the one truly great thing that I can cling to was… getting engaged. And not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, it means that I get to marry the guy that makes my heart the happiest. But, it also resulted in such an outpouring of love and support from our friends and families. Knowing that we have so many people in our corner and on our side as we take the next steps in our lives is so comforting. In all of the (low-grade) stress that wedding planning can bring, at the end of the day, it’s wonderful to be reminded that so many people want to share our special day with us and to wish us well. The whole experience is a constant stream of reminders to be grateful for all of the incredible humans I have in my life.

So, 2016, as shit as you were, thanks a bunch for reminding me that even in the midst of loss and sadness, life goes on and it’s actually pretty great. Suck it, 2016. We’re better than you.

This year has been like an epic space battle in my head: The Optimistic Rebel versus The Tyrannical Cynic. I’ve been floating somewhere between join the rebellion and hide like the old hermit, just trying to emotionally survive until we can find a way to bring balance to the force that connects us all, that bind the galaxy together. Yes, I know my nerd is showing. I don’t even care.

All nerdy musings aside, so many voices were silenced this year; voices of progress and empathy and laughter and hope. We all feel the void. I’m so pissed about a lot of things that are happening in our world right now, and I feel helpless. But like the dandelion that sprouts from a crack in the sidewalk, there is a gift that this shit year has given to those who will receive it.

Thank you, 2016 for some perspective. As a liberal progressive living in California and working in public education, I’ve always recognized that there was more work to be done. I just didn’t realize how much more. 2016 was a year of privilege burdened by the inevitable aftershock of disbelief. Now it’s time to fight. Also, it’s time to unplug and spend more quality time getting to know my kids and my partner again. We go through these daily motions of waking, working, eating, sleeping, and in between, our faces glow from a screen. If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that social media are the donuts of the internet. It’s so good when I take my first bite, but afterward I just to throw up. Lastly, it’s more important than ever for me to do my part to protect our planet. It’s literally the one thing we have that we can’t live without.

So yeah, 2016, you need to GTFO. And fair warning 2017, you’d better watch yourself. I’m in the mood to kick a little ass.

2016 was a great year for me personally, which is weird to say. I kind of feel guilty that I had so much good happen to me in 2016. I went to Disney for the first time, turned 40, bought my dream car, got the best present in the world from my husband; a trip to Space Camp, and ran three half marathons. Some parts of 2016 were fabulous, and I wish I could do them a second time. Although, I do get to love my car and my husband every day. I’m blessed for sure.

I was also heartbroken by the loss of so many of my childhood idols and important voices we lost too young. I honestly can’t start thinking about it or I’ll cry. (The force is one with you, Carrie.) It just hurts way too much. I’m choosing to believe this is what’s happening:

And it’s a little known fact to my fellow Chicks that I’ve always been something of a political junkie. There wasn’t really a need to get riled up during the Obama years because, well, as a progressive liberal from one of the bluest counties in one of the states least affected by the Great Recession, I was in my bubble. And things looked fine in my bubble.  Buuuut, I’m also a fan of (or maybe ‘student of’ would be a better term) George Orwell. So for me, 2016 was full of head shaking and fist shaking and local activism. Like Cam, I will be channeling my inner Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia to fight for all that is good in this world under the name 1976_Patriotess. BRING IT, 2017.

You can likely guess what I loved most about 2016… Yep. Baby Joe.

My maternity leave ends in a few days and I’ve cherished my time bonding with my son, born 16 weeks ago. I can hardly believe how fast this time has flown and at times am beyond exhausted. But one gummy grin from my guy and all the challenges melt away.

I’ve been wanting to write about his birth (an unexpected c-section after 19 hours of labor), early days of motherhood, the challenges of breast-feeding and other life changes for this first time mom, but it just never happened.

I look forward to an incredible 2017, which will begin with a whirlwind 2 weeks solo parenting, pumping in the office and beginning of daycare. Any back to work advice you can offer me as I leave Joe in the hands of our beloved caregiver, would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2017!

From a personal standpoint, 2016 has been an incredible year for me. I’ve remained injury free, hit personal bests in many of my race distances (5 mile, 10k, 10 mile, and half marathon – WHOA), traveled with my husband, and more. But what really stands out to me as the highlight of my year is that we were finally able to purchase a home that we’ve worked extremely hard for the past 13 years.

It’s always a bit daunting to make such a big life change and my family and I are very much creatures of habit. While moving to the next town over might not seem like a big deal to some, it was huge for us. I’m happy that my children have settled into their new school district and that I’ve been able to make connections with new friends (and some old ones that live here, too!). Additionally, since we’re not far from our old stomping ground, we haven’t left anyone behind!

The 2017 calendar is already filling up with social engagements like parties, weddings, races, and more and I’m looking forward to being with friends and family. I hope it is gentle and kind with all of us, because we could really use a healing year. You’ve gotta have faith. 

What has brought you joy in 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017? 

2016 Top Posts

On Monday we shared the gifts we gave each other for the holidays. Today we’re sharing the gifts you’ve given us over the past year by highlighting what really spoke to you as readers! (Besides giveaway posts because let’s be real, you guys REALLY like those!)

Let’s get this party started!

Mer hit the dusty trail for the Run the Vineyards 5 miler and subsequently, it lands as the 5th most read post on our list!

Vic shared her struggles with overextending while pregnant and it struck a chord with many of our readers.

Kyle took on the ridiculousness of the BMI scale and refused to be defined by it.

Vic’s life had many changes in 2016. Many difficult and many blessings. We can all agree that 2016 has been a helluva year.

Jenn shared her running skirt with pocket waistband tutorial and many readers planned to break out their sewing machines to make their own! It comes in at number one on our most read list for posts of 2016. We want to see your finish products!

Thank you for spending yet another year with Scoot a Doot. As we approach our 4th year of blogging, we are grateful for both the people who have stuck with us since the beginning and those whom we’ve met more recently!

Secret Ho Ho Hos – 2016 Edition

It’s that time again! A time for giving and caring and sharing!

This was our 4th Secret Santa exchange and as always, it was so much fun to see what we got one another. Our parameters were staying within a $20 limit and picking something that we think the recipient will love. We used a website to match us so we would be extra surprised (and some of us didn’t include a gift message so we’re still figuring it out!)

If you need to grab a last minute gift, maybe one of these will inspire you.

I got Kyle, and I chose a hand-thrown mug and lid for her, along with a few of my favorite teas. I struggled with choosing a mug, there were two that I thought she would like. One had a woman turning into a bird in hues of blue and aqua, and the other had lovely music notes and staff. I know her love of music and signing, so I ultimately went with the mug with notes.

Then she messaged me to say that the lid arrived ok, but that the mug had not. 🙁 Sooooo, I’m off to the Celestial Seasonings Factory Gift Shop, and I really hope they have another one with music notes. At least she’ll have some nice peppermint tea to keep her warm while she waits!

Knowing our newest mama chick hasn’t been doing a ton of running lately, but has been playing with her cute kiddo, I wanted to get her a gift that a new mom would appreciate. I reached out to another friend who has also recently had a baby and asked what her favorite mom swag was. As an athlete herself who is trying to get back in the swing of running and working out, her answer was no surprise. She recommended a nursing sports bra – which she touted as not only comfortable, but also easy to use and wear. I knew that while Vic hasn’t been putting the miles in lately, maybe something like this would help that transition when the time comes!

Third time’s the charm! Once again, I was paired with the fabulous Cam. I laughed out loud when I saw my match because I was Cam’s Secret Santa the first two years of the exchange. I hope I nailed it those first two years, but I wanted to do something different without repeating themes or ideas.

Knowing that Cam loves to bake, I got her two themed baking items.

I splurged on ninja cookie cutters since Cam’s Ragnar team is centered around ninjas! These things are adorable!

Cam’s second gift is also to be used in the kitchen, but apparently won’t be delivered until after Christmas. (Thanks for misleading me on that one, Amazon) so I don’t want to say what it is here. I’d rather Cam be surprised when it arrives. Let me just say – it’s out of this world! And I know Cam will enjoy the force it brings to her recipes!

Obviously, the gift I chose for my Secret Santa was motivated by our upcoming Ragnar adventure.  I wanted Meri to have everything she needs for her night run in Pennsylvania this June.  I found her a stylish purple headlamp and matching blinky light to guide her way through Amish country.  This Ragnar has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to share it with her!  Happy Happy Holidays, my sweet friend!

I was paired with Jenn! She and I obviously have some good brain share going on because I sent her a mug as well, knowing that she enjoys drinking her tea. We originally met through our love of books and reading so when I saw this “banned books” mug, I knew that she would appreciate it. Jenn is a non-conformist and she doesn’t follow the rules when it comes to writing. I fully expect to see an update of this mug with a book that she’s authored listed (and we’ll read it anyway because we do what we want).

I also sent her this sweet yoga top that I’ve been eyeing for awhile, just waiting for the perfect time to send to her (this was it!) and a little Whisper sign from My Favorite Sign Company, a small business with whom I work closely. Jenn’s dogs are her world and I knew that she’d be nodding her head with this message.

We hope your holidays are merry and bright. If you’d like to check out our past exchanges, click on the years below.

2013, 2014, 2015

What are your favorite gifts to give? Get? We’d love to hear about what you’re looking forward to this holiday season!

Guest Post: My First Marathon – Space Coast Marathon

About this time last year I got a text from my friend and running buddy that said “I think I’m going run a marathon”. My response was probably something like “Nah” to which she graciously told me I didn’t have to run it, but it was something that she wanted to do. I was fully prepared to cheer her on and be a supportive friend. I’m good at that.

In all honesty, thinking about running a marathon is pretty exciting and scary. I did think a lot about it before it was time for sign ups. Then, in February of this year, my stepfather unexpectedly passed away. He was the type of man who was always supportive of me, no matter what I did: running, school, career-wise…everything. So, I wanted to do a thing that he would be proud of.

We both signed up, had our initial adrenaline rushes and, well…then we forgot about it, to be honest. Being teachers, we do end up with some free time over the summer to plan and train. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, does it? We would exchange texts telling each other to get into gear but it didn’t always work out. Once school started in August training became a distant thought.

Then it was October.

At first we debated whether we should even go or not. We thought about taking “The Wormhole” out and completing the half marathon instead. A couple of times we ran together after school and tried to stay accountable with our own long runs over the weekend. Eventually we just kind of decided we were going for it, training or not.

A few days before the race I was talking to my co-worker, Ali, who ran Space Coast and she mentioned that the volunteers dressed up as space-inspired groups, so I hopped on Amazon and bought a Star Trek pin, searched the stores for a yellow shirt, and put together a simple-but-nerdy outfit.

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We left for Cocoa Beach Saturday morning to make it to the expo and packet pickup. Most of our conversations were jokes about dying and hoping we didn’t injure ourselves because, you know, our training was limited.

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The expo was crazy busy, so we only really stayed long enough to pick up our packets and a couple of little things. (Snacks and headbands, of course.) After a dinner of beer and pizza (yes, really) we tucked ourselves in at 7PM.

By 3:30AM I was wide awake and kind of ready to get the show on the road. We got up, got ready, and with the help of Michelle’s husband and son made it to the start point… after a quick stop for coffee. We spent about forty-five minutes before the race started getting things prepped. I finished my bagel and peanut butter, tried to drink some coffee to wake me up, and took a couple of trips to the bathroom.

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By 6:20AM we were lined up at the starting point, listening for announcements and trying not to freak out. Michelle and I have run a lot of races together. All of our “first” races have been together, so this one was pretty big for us. Three years ago this time we were running our first 5K together. We’ve come a long way.

After the pledge and a short countdown video we were off! Since we hadn’t properly trained Michelle and I decided to focus on 2:1 intervals. There were a few Galloway pace groups in the race but we didn’t want to commit to a group that we might not have been able to keep up with. The intervals started out fairly well and we were both feeling pretty good at the start of the race. It helped that the Space Coast Marathon’s course is absolutely beautiful!

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Beautiful scenery!

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At mile six!

As we came into mile thirteen Michelle’s husband and son met us at the halfway point. They complimented us and said we were looking strong, then gave us snacks. They’re okay in my book! Truthfully, by the halfway point I was starving! I had a salted caramel GU at about mile eight, but was super glad I picked up some Stinger waffles at the expo. They really helped!

We passed “The Wormhole” as we came around mile thirteen and joked about taking, but we knew we were in it for the long haul. The course continued to stay beautiful and we got to see some of the half marathoners coming in on their way to the finish. Okay, there were also some marathoners getting ready to finish also. Michelle and I thoroughly believe in “slow and steady”.

At each mile marker after thirteen I said something like “this is the longest we’ve been” because it was true and it felt great! My body was protesting a little, but my mind was fully in the game. I was counting the miles and calculating the time as we ran on, but I didn’t get discouraged about anything. I was feeling good, not too sore, and was staying hydrated with the help of some great volunteers.

By mile twenty I was kind of starting to feel it, however. We had kept up our intervals and were doing great. Neither one of us had a real issue with taking a few extra minutes of walking every mile or so, just to take a breather. I could tell that we were both feeling it as we rounded to come back after mile twenty. Usually we can keep a conversation going, but it was getting tough!

As we headed toward the homestretch the wind picked up and kept us cool for the last six miles. The volunteers were still out, cheering us on and giving us snacks (M&Ms!) and water. Since the course was through a neighborhood a few of the residents were out in their yards also. Some had posted signs and left them there but a few were actually giving out candy, snacks, and, in one instance, shots and beer. It was tempting, but I don’t think drinking at mile twenty-two would have been in my best interest.

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I did find the greatest sign for my Captain Kirk inspired shirt at about mile twenty-four and we stopped moving long enough to snap a picture of it:

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Run long and prosper.

As we came into our last mile Michelle’s family joined us again and stayed with us until the end. Around us there were other people coming to walk or run in the last little bit with their friends or family. It was all very moving and a great reminder of how awesome the running community is. I know that it would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t had Mer cheering me on and other friends sending me their well-wishes.

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Rounding the last quarter mile was such a great feeling! Knowing that you’d made it nearly 26.2 miles is kind of mind blowing. When I started running three and a half years ago I never envisioned myself running a marathon. As we ran by people and heard them say “Way to go, marathoners!”, it just kind of hits you in the feels.

Crossing the finish line I felt equal parts of relief and exhilaration. I was hungry and tired, but also kind of hyped up because, you know, I just ran a marathon. After we grabbed out bags, changed our shoes, and loaded up with pancakes and eggs, I sat down and replied to a bunch of texts. To my best friends “Are you alive?” and my mother’s “Are you done yet?”. There were all kinds of notifications from friends online and the outpouring of support from everyone was amazing.

It was just as tough as we knew it was going to be, but still so very rewarding. It’s more than a medal and shirt, though those things are nice. It’s the fact that your body can do amazing things. That you can do amazing things! And that there are always people who you can inspire and who can inspire you.

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Now, I don’t know if another marathon is in my future…but I’m not counting it out just yet.

Happy running!

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter with @thisgirlash_ if you like to talk about books, cats, and running (sometimes). I also blog at Ash Does Stuff.

Chick Chat: It’s Fall Y’all!

Did somebody say FALL? Sign us up – we are totally embracing the cozy nights on the couch, the crisp leaves, and the apple picking. We all agree, Fall gets an A+!

As such, we decided to play a little fill in the blank game, and would love for YOU to play too. You ready?

Fall in my area means_______________.

The one fall tradition I never skip is______________.

The best Halloween candy is____________. But I’m not a fan of__________.

kylename1

Fall in my area apparently means apple-picking, but in the four years that I’ve lived in Virginia, I still haven’t gotten out to an orchard. Ha. So I guess what I mean to say is that Fall in my area actually means Football. Every Sunday. And Thursday Night. And Friday Night. And Saturday. And Monday Night? Jeez. When I put it that way it sounds like all I do is watch football. Which isn’t necessarily wrong.

Taken on a 2013 hike in VT on the Appalachian Trail

Taken on a 2013 hike in VT on the Appalachian Trail

The one Fall tradition I never skip? Sorry, not sorry: Pumpkin Spice Latte. Or Americano. But I get at least one every year. Usually just one. But I always have to check that box in the annual welcoming of pumpkin flavor back into my life.

The BEST Halloween candy are Reese’s cups. There was a heavy barter system and black market candy trade in my house when we were kids to see who could get their hands on the most Reese’s. Pretty much any of the chocolate candy is near the top of my list. I’m not, however, a big fan of licorice-flavored anything, though. Keep that vile junk away from me. No. Thank. You.

vicname1

Fall in my area means weekly trips to the farm stand for freshly picked apples (and seasonal trips to my in-laws’ farm to pick apples and make pies and cider! It’s also time for stunning, vibrant foliage. I seriously can’t get enough of it! 

The one fall tradition I never skip is seeking out stunning foliage and making fresh veggies from local farmers. Unfortunately I also can’t skip raking leaves as I have a huge yards with lots of trees. Ah well. 

The best Halloween candy are Reese’s PB cups (pumpkins) and Kit Kats. But I’m not a fan of Snickers, candy corn or any sort of black licorice. Ick.

camname1

Fall in my area means pretty much the same as Spring.  California doesn’t believe in seasons.  Erratic temperatures in the morning that lure you into a false hope that today might be the day you get to wear a jacket.  By mid afternoon, you’re cursing the very existence of jackets as the temperatures reach the 90’s.  I really love jackets.  I hate that California makes me hate them.

The one fall tradition I never skip is apple picking in Oak Glen.  Also, trick or treating!  We love Halloween!  We try to get to Disneyland during the fall, I think the Halloween decor is even better than Christmas!

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The best Halloween candy is Kit Kat and Twix. But I’m not a fan of anything shaped like eyeballs.
jennname1
Fall in my area means yellow aspens and corn mazes (which I avoid like the Red Death). Although I love to write scary stories, I hate reading them, and I certainly refuse to pretend to be in one (cue corn maze). Pardox personified? So much yes. But it also means Halloween, a.k.a the BEST holiday ever. If I’m honest, costuming is the real reason I learned to sew. If only we wore costumes everyday, the world would be a much more interesting and fun place.
Picture courtesy of Jenn's friend, @espyphoto

Crystal Mill near Aspen. Picture courtesy of Jenn’s friend, Jen. @espyphoto

The one fall tradition I never skip is pumpkin scones. Mmmmmmmm. I’m not really a fan of the pumpkin spice thing, but mix it with white flour and sugar, and I’m there. By the way, does anyone have a healthy pumpkin scone recipe??

The best Halloween candy is caramel apples. And mini Baby Ruths. And maybe Reese’s Peanut Butter pumpkins. And Smarties. Can I just say all the candy? But I’m not a fan of candy corn. Gross.

mername1

Fall in my area means a crazy amount of things to do. And I truly want to do all of the things! In our family in particular it means lots of Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings/fundraisers/Halloween parties. It means fall racing (and hopefully PRs!) for me. I love the colorful leaves and the cooler temps. I can borrow Cam’s jackets!

The one fall tradition I never skip is something that signifies fall to my family in particular. We have a tin man made out of cans that Jay and I got as a wedding gift. The boys absolutely love our tin man and it wouldn’t be fall without it on our front steps!

The best Halloween candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I will gladly take those off anyone’s hands. But I’m not a fan of licorice (Twizzlers doesn’t count, btw).

Okay, now it’s YOUR turn. We want to hear what makes you swoon when it comes to Fall!

Chick Chat: Let’s Catch Up!

Hey friends! 2016 has been a whirlwind and we’ve been busy, busy, busy! Seriously – how is it the end of September already? We wanted to take this opportunity to catch up with you guys – let you know what we’ve been up to and hopefully you’ll share a bit with us too.

vicname1

It’s been one big long year of change for me. As many of you know, my father passed away in February after a 10 month battle with leukemia, my office moved and job responsibilities shifted (again.) But earlier this month, our biggest change arrived- all 8 lbs. 1 oz. of him.

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On Sept. 7, my husband and I met the light of our lives, our son Joseph Luis. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of nursing, round the clock schedules and everything baby. We’re happily exhausted and feeling a bit more confident each day. I’m on maternity leave through the end of the year, and once cleared by the doctor, I’ll be easing my way back into a fitness regimen. Stay tuned as I explore this incredible new chapter in life.

kylename1

Life snapshot: Work, wedding planning, exercising, hosting football parties, choir, dogsitting all the time, playing with my cat, trying to eat healthy, sleeping… maybe. Basically, right now I feel like Leslie Knope, trying to do all the things at once and still have everyone like me at the end of the day. What my life requires at this moment is lists, boundaries, compartmentalization and coffee. Lots of coffee.

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Exercising and eating healthy (and sleep, I guess) help keep me feeling physically good and give me the energy to put in to all of my other endeavors. Wedding planning is going well, but I’m always looking for more ideas and ways to create a budget friendly celebration. I’ve had to step back from a few commitments in the last month or so because I realized that they 1. were causing me too much undue stress, and 2. were making things I loved way less fun.

Don’t keep that kind of negativity in your life, friends. Just don’t.

Setting boundaries and protecting your heart and happiness is easy to say and hard to do, but super important and something I’m working on getting better at. That’s the underlying focus of all the things I’ve got going on in life at the moment!

jennname1

My life has been dominated by one big thing, looking for a new home. There have been some changes in our neighborhood recently, so we’re cashing out our equity and downsizing to something that gives us more freedom to live. We want to work to live, not live to work just to pay for our stuff that we don’t use anyway. Since I don’t have children, the options are wide open. We’re even talking about buying a 5th wheel and living out of that while we sock away a few years of income. Just about everything is on the table!

Maybe this will be my backyard!

Maybe this will be my backyard!

After reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-up“, I’m on a mission to purge. You should totally read it too because it was life-changing. After reading it, I have the tools I need to par down my possessions and my life so I can focus on family, fitness, writing, and finishing my novel. Only good things are ahead!

mername1

While Jenn has been busy considering a new home, my family and I are on the other side of… things? The fence? The grass? Is there a saying here that I’m forgetting?

Anyway, we’ve been finding our new routine in our new home. The summer felt like one big pool party (possibly because we have a pool in our yard now). Now my kids are getting their new school routines down while I figure out the best days to do laundry, go food shopping, volunteer, etc. I’m a type A to the extreme so I thrive with plans, lists (fist bump, Kyle!), and other things that make me feel like I’m in charge of it all.

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Training for a couple of upcoming 10ks and the Philly half marathon is going well. I’m injury free, thank goodness, and planning on staying that way. Really focusing on spending time with my family and trying to enjoy the moments that are going so fast and ignore the fact that my 11 year old is going to be taller than me very soon. Looking forward to all that fall has offer: crisp air, snuggly attitudes, and cute Target decorations!

camname1

 Now that grad school is over and done with, I have effectively learned how to say no to additional responsibilities and freed up all kinds of time to do whatever I like…said no Cam ever.  Yeah, all that time I freed up graduating has now been officially assigned to work and soccer.  I have a 3/4 combination class, a new principal, and new math AND reading curriculum to learn.  My days are literally packed with preparing for the next lessons.  A combo class has forced me to plan and organize EVERYTHING or else I have 30 kids staring at me while I lose my shit.

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I’ve also sold my sole (ha ha, get it?) to soccer.  My guy is coaching so I’m splitting my time between playing Ms. Coach and carting my daughter to her practices, which are on the same nights at a park on the complete opposite side of town.  All this mommy stuff is putting the brakes on my fitness goals, though I did just finish a 6 week transform class where I lost 6% of my body weight and lots of inches.  So that was nice.  With Hawaii Ragnar just around the corner, there’s no time to slack off.  Looks like I’ll be hitting the field with the kids!
So, what’s the haps with you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

A Non-Runner’s First Mudderella

Friday night, I went to bed so nervous I thought I was going to be sick. Saturday morning, I got in my car and drove to Englishtown Mudderella 2016 praying to baby Jesus the entire drive. I was finally going to participate in my first Mudderella and I was petrified!

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My name is Ana and here is my story.

Last October, I signed up for my first Mudderella with my best friend and big sister. Two weeks later we had a team of 22 women! O.M.G. It just got real. I was no longer participating in an event with my two besties, now there were other people! I felt pressured!

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So I did what every logical human being would do. I trained for the event. I started going to the gym to run. Except there’s one problem… I HATE RUNNING! I mean, I seriously hate running. I have always hated running. Let me put this in perspective for you. In the twelve years that I played softball, my goal was to either walk or hit a home run because neither of these would require me to run hard. I quit the basketball team because there was too much running. It was that drastic…. and it still is.

But, I signed up for a Mudderella and now I had to train.

I spent many days in the gym running and trying to do pull-ups, push-ups, core strengthening exercises, and anything else my former Marine of a husband suggested. This lasted 3 weeks.

Then a kidney stone decided to take it’s sweet time and kept me out of the gym for about 6 weeks. But determined, I went back to the gym.

Then I sprained a rib from a nasty cough…a few more weeks out of the gym.

All of a sudden it’s April and being an entrepreneur, bouncing two kids to track (they don’t take after me) and band is kicking my butt!

Then May… at this point why even bother training.

Look! It’s June! This is when I renew my faith and start praying. No wonder I felt sick to my stomach last night. I am totally unprepared for my first Mudderella.

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Muddy sisters!

My sister and I decide to walk it. Our goal for the day was to complete the entire event without having to use our medical insurance benefits. And we succeeded! Yes, we walked the ENTIRE event! We also completed EVERY obstacle! I even got over the difficult wall without any help. But that was not a shocker to me. You see, I can do the obstacles. It’s the running that I cannot do.

So, as we walked through the entire event, I felt a little “pang” in my gut. I felt as if I was cutting myself short by not running the event. I watched women and men of all ages and sizes run past me, covered in mud and feeling empowered.

As we completed one obstacle at a time, I realized something. I realized that I still hate running and the only reason I wanted to run is because everyone else was running. In reality, who cares? So what if I can’t run, some of the runners couldn’t pull their own weight. That doesn’t make them any less competitive. That doesn’t make them less worthy of feeling empowered.

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Once again, my big sister taught me a lesson by smiling and being herself. One’s empowerment does not come from Mudderella. One’s empowerment comes from inside! It comes from being able to handle a wacky 11 year old, curious 15 year old, stepchildren, former Marine husband, being an entrepreneur, and let’s not forget the trying relationship between the dogs and cat.

Honestly, we should already feel empowered with our daily accomplishments. I doubt anyone could handle my life without crying, and I doubt that I could handle yours. We all have different emotional, psychological, and physical strengths.

Retired in style!

Retired in style!

Mudderella was a BLAST and I would totally do it again! I will try to train and probably fail again, but I will be OK with that. I love working out and being outdoors but running isn’t that important to me. Simply put, I don’t like how it makes me my body feel. One twelve minute treadmill mile is my personal best, and that’s OK. So, for all you runners: GO GET IT GIRLS! YOU ROCK! For all of you who like to read about running in hopes that you’ll be inspired enough to complete your first 5K or Mudderella: I’LL TOTALLY WALK IT WITH YOU WITHOUT SHAME!

Who cares how you finish the race? Whether you walk or run, the distance and obstacles are all the same. Besides, you still get the Mudderella Finisher t-shirt at the end.

I deem my first Mudderella a success! Next will be the Inflatable 5K… now that looks like a fun time!

Ana Soley is an entrepreneur who opened her own business with her husband, Fast Response Plumbing, LLC She’s having a great time raising 2 kids and 2 stepkids while trying to keep her humble abode from imploding. Loves the outdoors, kayaking, archery, walking the dogs, and hiking. She’s a big fan of a good sweat but hates running, as can be determined by this blog post.

The Unintentional Yogi

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I’m going to start right in the middle of my story.  I’m a 200 hour certified yoga teacher.  So, there’s that.  It wasn’t really a plan or a goal.  Not at first.  Actually, it was never even on the radar.

When I took that first yoga class, I was a disaster.  And, that is putting it mildly.  I had no clue what the poses were, regardless if they were being presented in English or in Sanskrit.  But, what I lacked in knowledge and skill, I made up for with total ignorance, a lack of pride, and sheer visceral-fortitude.  The fact that I DIDN’T know how to do anything only made me want to do it MORE!  Luckily I didn’t feel intimidated by the advanced students.  They actually had quite the opposite effect on me.  I saw them as inspiration!

I never knew that the body could be so strong and could be contorted in so many simple, beautiful, and unusual ways. So, I kept showing up to my mat because I liked seeing from practice to practice that I was making progress.  I eventually dove into beginner and fundamental workshops (which probably would have been a better place to start, but…hey, hindsight is 20-20).  I moved from practicing one day a week to two…and then to three.  I found changes happening in my body and in my overall mindset and well-being.  It took me an entire year of continuing to show up and put in the work to finally be able to hold crow pose (bakasana) for 5 breaths.  And, once that happened…I felt that anything was possible in my practice.

I was a regular at the studio.  I was “friends” with the teachers.  When a teacher-training was finally being offered at the studio location that I frequented, my favorite teacher suggested that I sign up.  I LOVED the idea.  I really wanted to expand my knowledge of yoga and to fine-tune my personal practice.  I didn’t have any desire to teach, but not everyone who goes through teacher-training actually wants to teach.  So, that wasn’t an issue.  When I presented the idea to my husband, he was fully supportive…in as long as I chose to MONETIZE my training.  He didn’t feel it was a great idea to spend a somewhat large sum of money to get certified if it was solely being used as a self-exploration and personal growth tool.  And, because I REALLY wanted to do this, I agreed to his terms, and I signed up (still not personally committed to the idea that I actually would teach).

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The five and a half months worth of teacher-training classes were set to start in September.  In July, I unfortunately was unexpectedly injured.  In a freak occurrence, I was bitten by my own dog.  I had to have a plastic surgeon brought in to perform emergency surgery on my mouth and face.  My upper-left-lip was mostly detached, and it took countless numbers of artistically placed stitches to put me back together.

Recovery was physically brutal.  I wasn’t able to eat for 10 days, and I was in constant pain.  Emotionally I was a wreck, too.  In an effort to make sure our young daughter (and everyone/anyone else) would be safe, we made the heart-breaking decision to say goodbye to our well-loved 12 year old fur baby.  Through the course of all of this, people began sympathetically talking to me about how sucky it was that I also now wouldn’t be able to go through with my yoga teacher-training.  That really struck me in an odd way.  That thought never even crossed my mind!  At that moment, more than any other, I knew that I HAD to go through with teacher-training…that I NEEDED it.  So, I stuck with that plan as I continued to move forward.

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I made my way back to my mat after a month of healing.  I slowly started to move through the practice and re-establish what yoga was to me right then and there.  Two weeks into it, I was feeling strong and motivated…so much so that I was engaging in a full-practice, including arm balances and inversions.  That is when another blow was delivered.

meganyoga3I was in side-crow, and I felt something “tweak” in my wrist.  That tweak turned into a whole bunch of pain.  Pain that didn’t get better.  Off to the wrist specialist I went where it was determined that I had torn my TFCC (triangular-fibrocartilage complex) and had perforated a ligament.  I was given a cortisone injection and was put in a fiberglass cast for 4 weeks, with the talk of surgery after that.  Again, everyone assumed that my opportunity to go through with the yoga teacher-training process was going to be inevitably delayed.  The way I looked at it, though, was that the universe was simply testing me.  It wanted to find out HOW MUCH I really wanted to do this….how much it really meant to me.  So, my game plan?  Show up.  Just as I had been doing, cast and all.  I determined that the only way that I wasn’t going through with the program was if one of the studio owners told me that I couldnt.  I wasn’t going to give them any reasons to think that I shouldn’t be there.  And, luckily, no one ever openly questioned my showing up .

So, TAKE THAT, UNIVERSE!  I plopped down on that mat cast and all, full of excitement and naive anticipation.  I’ll mention that there is no preparing for the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with yoga-teacher training, injury or no injury.  There are days that we practiced for the better part of 4 hours straight with little or no breaks.  I gritted my way through it all.   I modified my practice and did everything on my fists.  My knuckles were bruised and calloused.  But, I wasn’t going to give anyone any reason to say that I wasn’t putting in the work.  I wasn’t going to use anything as an excuse nor was I going to jeopardize my certification.  So, on it went.  10 hours a weekend for most weekends.  Time away from family.  Time filled with mom-guilt.  And wife-guilt.  Time spent not knowing if I would get through, because, shit, y’all…yoga teacher training is H-A-R-D!  But, it is when you push yourself through in the toughest of moments that you tend to reap the biggest rewards, and that is what I wanted.  I wanted the reward.

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When the cast came off, I again had to rebuild my practice.  I spent the entire teacher-training working to lift back into crow pose and fumble my way back into hand-standing.  Hell, down dog wasn’t even “easy.”  But, that is one of the beauties in yoga.  It is humbling.  You never know where your body might be from one day to the next…but there is still a place for you on that mat.  There is an opportunity to practice and progress, regardless of where you are at any given moment.  Drop the ego, pull yourself inward, focus, let go…and just see what happens.  That right there…that is what KEEPS me coming back.  And, that is what kept me going through the grueling and soul-searching process that is yoga teacher-training.  And, that is what eventually earned me my certification to teach yoga.

I just graduated in February 2016.  About 6 weeks prior to my final, I started teaching donation-based classes to get in additional teaching practice.  I taught my first “real class” the week right after I graduated…at the studio that has been my “home” for three years, the studio where I also took my teacher-training.  I’m not only teaching vinyasa, but I’m also combining my loves and am teaching running yoga classes!  And, I feel I am exactly where I should be, unintentionally or not.  Some things in life may not be planned, but they might turn out to be exactly what you need.  I discovered that I DO want to teach yoga.  I want to share my love of yoga with others.  I want people to discover that they have an inner-strength that maybe they have not yet explored or found.  I want people to know that yoga is accessible to EVERYONE, and that even if you can’t or don’t care to ever emulate all of the crazy poses that you see plastered all over Instagram…that you can still progress in your own practice.  That even in the most basic of poses, you are still “doing” yoga.  That it is ok to fall and to laugh at yourself, and then get right back up and try again.  I want people to know that yoga takes place on the mat, yes…but that most of the work of yoga takes place off the mat, and that is where the real magic happens.  I am a living example of that.  I am a healthier, stronger, more calm and patient, life-loving person than I ever thought possible.  My yoga practice makes that a reality.  I never thought at the age of 42 that I would be a head-standing, balancing on my arms, hand-standing, mantra-singing, peace-loving, breath-focused yogi…but I am, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

I encourage you to:  Throw down a mat.  Get on.  See where it might take you.  You might be surprised.  Om, shanti, shanti, shanti!  Namaste!

Megan currently teaches at Dhyana Yoga in Haddonfield, NJ. If you’re not close by (and even if you are) you can follow her on Instagram