Relocating and Recalibrating

It’s been about a month and a half since we landed in California and, well, it’s been an adventure. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things (life, work, happiness, gratitude) in the time since we left Virginia and some days have been easier than others. It’s been a huge adjustment being out here, which is no surprise – that was known before we even moved. I knew that everything would be different – but I don’t think I quite realized what the magnitude of that difference would feel like.

Before living in Virginia, I had moved almost every year for about three years – from Wisconsin, to Alaska, to Minnesota, to Alaska, back to Minnesota, to DC, and finally Virginia. I could fit my life in my little Ford Escape and because I wasn’t really living in any one place for very long, I didn’t feel so much sadness at leaving it behind. But then I settled in Virginia, fell in love, got married – we made our little space there a home, and made good friends. We established a comfortable routine. It wasn’t “home” in the way that Alaska will always be, but it was a home for us. 

When we first discussed the possibility of PCS-ing, I was a little apprehensive. I knew it would mean big changes for me, and selfishly, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to give up my job and my independence to the Marine Corps. But, I knew that PCS-ing also meant greater opportunities for growth and advancement for Clay, which was something he likely wouldn’t have had if he stayed put. I was also excited about the idea of moving somewhere new, especially if that somewhere new was back to the Western US. California was the most likely place we could end up and in my head, that was probably the best option for me: close to some of my good friends, lots of job opportunities, lots of outdoor activities… it made sense.

I’m thrilled that we’re out here now – but I’d be lying if I said that it has been easy. I miss all of the things that were easy about Virginia. Making friends as an adult is HARD. I’m working from home for now, so I don’t get a ton of interaction with other people. I haven’t found a gym that’s a good fit yet. Things are just *that* much unfamiliar and I don’t have the self-confidence I’m used to feeling. I’m always thinking about the long-term and what that will look like for us and I’m really having to work hard on actively maintaining perspective in all things.

It would be really easy to let my fears and insecurities get really loud and drown out the opportunities. Some days, I just have to buckle down and focus on work (and there is a lot of that going on at the moment). Other days, I need to spend an hour or two in the gym – because in that space and time, I am in control of all of the variables. Which is more than I can say for life outside the gym sometimes.

I find myself leaning on my support system to help keep the anxious monsters quiet. I’m grateful for Clay – and I have to remind myself that he’s experiencing even more newness and unfamiliarity than I am as he settles into his new job and new leadership roles. Like I said, so much of this transition is about maintaining perspective.

I’m looking forward to feeling truly settled in, removing some of the uncertainty of life here, creating more stability, making new friends and connecting with old ones. I know things will even out over time and that I just have to worry about what I can control. It’s a process, but I can only take it one day at a time.

Press Pause

It’s Friday! I know for some people who don’t only work during the weekday or who have kids who are busy, that doesn’t really mean anything. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to relax over the weekend and take some time for yourself. A few weeks ago (I think?) I posted some “self-care” ideas, so I’m going to try not to write the same thing here. Of course, it’s Thursday night and I’m kind of tired, so…

Okay, but really. How often is it that we get to press pause on our everyday, busy lives? Never, right? The school year is always busy and with Girls on the Run and my other school duties, it gets hard. Granted, I don’t have kids, so it’s a little easier for me to take some time during the weekend for myself. There are so many things that can happen during the week to bring us down or set us off, so it’s important to decompress every now and then.

A lot of people have their own ways to celebrate me time. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m an avid reader and any time I’m alone I’m usually reading. Or binge watching TV shows. That’s it. That’s my me time.

Kidding. A little. One thing that I wanted to focus on this year was journaling as a way to jot down ideas and feelings. It is (every year) a goal of mine to read my Bible and journal with it. It’s a goal every year because it’s one I struggle with. This is definitely a way to get in time by myself, but it’s not something I love to do. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m a work in progress.

Sometimes taking that time to yourself might make you feel selfish, and I think that’s okay. Maybe it shows that you care about things more, I don’t know? I know I feel guilty about binge watching television all day if I have papers to grade. BUT – it’s important to separate yourself from your work or whatever stresses you out.

Sometimes fitness helps, when I’m not doing it to train. Before I decided to sign up for marathons I would just come home from work and run. I used to love seeing how fast and far I could go within those first couple of years of running. Often times, though, it’s the fitness or training I need a break from. That’s where the lazing comes into play.

During the summer I like to spend my days at the beach. Oh, who am I kidding, I live in Florida and go to the beach year round. The beach is peaceful for me and I know a lot of people find their peace in nature. Something about the great vastness that helps us escape.

There are so many ways to unwind or decompress and these are a few of mine.

What are some of yours?

PS – Oh, and sleep. I friggin’ love me some sleep.

Back at it Again

Disclaimer: I received free entry to 305 Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Look, I’ve been watching fellow athletes killing it on social media this week with their runs in the frozen tundra or wherever they are from and I commend them. Me? I don’t like to run if it’s under 60 degrees because that’s just not Florida weather, y’all. I ran yesterday and my fingers just about froze. Good thing I don’t really need them for running!

I’m slowly trying to get back into the training process (mostly because I’m running a half marathon with Mer and I don’t want it to be bad!) but also because it goes with some of my new year’s goals. It’s been a process, but I’m getting into some workouts and making sure I’m running a few times a week. This weekend my run buddy and I were supposed to do six miles, but there was a 100% percent chance of rain on Sunday so I stayed on the couch and reread some of the The Raven Cycle series. (My buddy did a treadmill run. She’s more awesome than I.)

I don’t have a gym membership, mostly because I waste the money, not because the gym is a waste of money. When I did have a membership I never went, so we have a little setup in our garage that works out well. Also, I don’t feel self-conscious when no one is watching me struggle to do push-ups.

This will be my first time running the 305 Half Marathon and I’m really excited about it! It was also super easy to sign up through Athlinks! The course looks amazing and, being the Floridian I am, I love the beach. The race starts on Ocean Drive and ends on South Beach and is full of Miami flair, so I can imagine it’s going to be like one big, sweaty party.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve done a half marathon and I’m over my Chicago burnout, so I’m ready to do this! Mer said we’re hoping for PRs so, hey, let’s get a PR. (Or maybe just have a lot of fun!)

You can use the code BIBRAVE305 and take $10 off the half or $5 off the 5K!

Where do you like to workout? 

2019, Let’s Do This!

2018 started of with a bang and a whimper. The bang was me hitting the icy ground as I took out the recycling, one January morning. And the whimper was when I quickly realized that my arm really, truly hurt.

My 2018 goal was to focus on shorter distance races and while I did that, I feel like my training was somewhat derailed after the first couple of months were a wash. Simply put, my heart wasn’t really into racing. Yes, I was doing races but my level of of pushing myself was not there.

I was okay with that then.

I’m not now.

I’m ready to train harder and make achievable goals that I can hit. Not every race is going to be a RACE for me, but I know what I’m capable of and 2018 wasn’t it. I suppose my 2019 goal is to try diligently and train better.

I have a (surprise!) run streak going right now. I didn’t start on the first of the year because hey, why be normal? Instead I started on December 28th and for the past 11 days I’ve run at least a mile a day. I have a good feeling about 2019!

So far, here’s what’s on the race calendar. Of course, I have my eye on a few more races so this could/will need to be updated soon.

february

This will be my 3rd year returning to The Chili Run. It’s a hilly two mile race (you read that right, two miles!) and it starts/finishes at a restaurant, Carolina Blue.

Run out a mile, run back the same mile. Chili and beer await at the finish line!

Good Day for a Run is a local NJ race company and they always put on quality events. Last year runners got a hat, the year before the swag was a chili bowl and spoon. This year it’s a medal and shirt.

If you’re near me and considering this race, register soon because the January date is already sold out and February is close to being capped. (And then let me know so I can look for you!)

april

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This is yet another race that I’m returning to for a three-peat. What’s not to love about the Hot Chocolate series? You get a run, awesome swag (I can’t wait for this year’s jacket), and at the end of the race, a big ol’ mug filled with treats and hot chocolate! The 15k runners also get a medal!

This race draws new and old runners alike. It’s a big name, the distance options are appealing, and the swag is fantastic. Plus, there’s chocolate on the course. Yeah, that’s right!

If you’re registering for the Philly race, code “BRHCPhilly” will get you a free armband like mine.

Or, if you’re looking at a different Hot Chocolate race, swing by the discount codes page and grab the code for your location.

Next up on April 13th is the Atlantic City April Fools 7k.

Usually I run the half marathon during this event. I skipped 2018 and this year I’m running the 7k for the first time ever. Instant PR! My son, Lucas, is registered for this one too and I have a couple of friends who plan to be there as well.

The 7k and 11k are on Saturday. With my Healthy Kids Running Series program running through April on Sundays, it just makes sense that I opt for Saturday races. I’m looking forward to returning to AC and running a familiar route.

Disclaimer: I also received race entry to the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Intrigued? Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This has been a bucket list race weekend for quite some time! I live in New Jersey but have yet to participate, which just seems silly! Therefore, when the opportunity came through BibRave to sign up for the 5k, I knew this was the time to get it done.

The 5k is on a Saturday, which once again, works really well in my schedule for the spring. I’ve heard good buzz about this race from friends and on Twitter. While the BibRave reviews mostly focus on the marathon and half marathon, it seems like a fun, well organized event.

Want to join in the weekend events? Use code “NJMBIBRAVE19” for $5 off any distance (5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Marathon Relay).

june

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to AC I go! I’m sure no one is surprised that I’ll be returning to Atlantic City for the Bungalow Beach Run!

2018 was the inaugural year and I’m looking forward to getting back and stretching my legs out on the boardwalk. Last year was a bit overcast but I’d much rather that than hot.

The finish is on the beach and I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about that portion. Thankfully it’s a short distance!

Registration for the Bungalow Beach Run is currently $45. Not bad for a 5 mile race that includes a medal, shirt, and beer.

Crazy to think that brings me through the first 6 months of 2019! What else is in store? Only time will tell but I’m ready for whatever comes my way!

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year! Are you tired of people saying that yet? I didn’t leave the house yesterday, so I only said it through various text messages. I’m going to be annoying right now, though. I’m going to talk about goals for 2019. Which is now, by the way.

I started 2018 getting ready to start training for the Chicago Marathon, something you all know about, obviously. I also started with a wellness program because I wasn’t happy with my body and how it looked. Marathon training and WW made me feel so much better about myself, let me tell ya.

Now? Ugh. I’ve hardly done anything physical since Chicago (okay, I’ve done three races, but they’ve been little ones) and with the holidays here, my healthy eating has gone out the window.

I know it’s typical to start the new year with health and fitness goals and a lot of people don’t stick to them. This is really about trying to make a lifestyle change to make myself feel better. I have purely selfish motives here! Here are some things I want to do:

Love running. When I first started running almost six years ago I loved it. It was something that helped me get rid of stress, it was fun to see what I could do, and I never worried about my pace or anything. This year running felt like a chore. I say chore and not job, because I love my job. Those 4AM wake up calls for training runs were the worst. I started to dread it. I started to dislike having to run with Girls on the Run. Running just wasn’t fun anymore. I want to love running again. I want to sign up for silly races that don’t mean anything or just get out there and go when I come home from work on on a weekend.

Less comparing. For me to love running again I need to stop comparing myself to others. It’s the same, I feel, about my teaching career. I just have to do what’s best for me. Stop comparing times, body types, how often someone runs. This is going to be a tough one for me.

Eat. Obviously this one. What I mean is: eat well. Eat the expensive groceries we buy every week. Try new recipes and keep leftovers. Meal plan. Don’t eat out, don’t waste money. Eat the good stuff. (But maybe sometimes order pizza.)

Be active. As much as I love to sit around and read, I also really love the outdoors. Florida has so many parks and nature preserves that I’ve yet to explore. I want to take the time to do this in 2019, kind of like Jenn’s Hike Challenge.

Grow spiritually. My faith has been a huge part of my life for the past fifteen years. One thing I want to focus on this year is doing more devotional and journal time. My mind is always going a mile a minute, so sometimes when I sit down to read or think I’m thinking about a hundred different things. The new year feels like the right time for some spiritual growth.

Rest. I thought I was pretty good at getting enough sleep since I usually have an early bedtime when school’s in session. Wow, was I wrong. I was texting a friend yesterday after I woke up from nine hours of interrupted sleep. (And I didn’t even drink on NYE!) and she commented how we teachers just kind of bank our sleep deficits. I am loving this extra rest time during winter break, but I need to figure out how to do it when I get back to real life.

Okay. That feels like enough goals for right now. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee yet because I’ve been working on that rest thing. I’m looking forward to getting started with all of these other things, too! If anyone is looking for an accountability partner, hit me up!

What are some of your goals for the new year?

 

Self Care Stuff

Self care Monday! I don’t know if that’s a thing, but for the sake of this post, let’s just roll with it, okay? Since I started marathon training in the spring (you knew that, right?) I feel like life has been pretty busy. The summer flew by and once school started it was work and training and that’s about it. It’s been over a month since Chicago and it finally feels like things are starting to slow down a little.

This weekend was the first weekend in a long time, I’m talking months, that I actually got to do absolutely nothing.

And it was amazing.

Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t have household chores or papers to grade, because I definitely did those things. But here are some other things that helped me relax this weekend that may help you out over the holiday break. Or just a weekend if you don’t get a few days off.

Read a book. Yeah. A whole book. You can do it. Turn off everything, get a cup of coffee, and read. Don’t get up until you’re done.

Go to a movie. My sister and I saw Crimes of Grindelwald this weekend and, while it definitely left a lot of questions unanswered and had some obvious plot holes…Jude Law as Dumbledore. That’s all.

Make that Yumbledore.

Sleep in. Full disclosure: I never sleep in. I’m a single, childless woman, but I have an internal alarm clock that makes sure I’m up before 7AM on the weekends. I have to drag myself out of bed on the weekdays, of course.

Workout. I actually didn’t workout this weekend, but I hear it’s nice to do.

Binge watch TV. I’ve finished with season four of Gotham, so now I’ve got to wait until January for the new season to start. This week of break will give me time to catch up on my regular weekly shows. Anyone else feel like Netflix judges them when they watch for too long?

Quality time. I live with my sister and two cats and we do spend a lot of time together. The weekends are a good time to catch up, though. To talk about stuff other than work or school. It gets tiresome and sometimes it’s nice to just hang out.

WriteI have a couple of personal blogs I write for so I tried to work on those this weekend. I like to write book reviews and I also write about my teaching experience. Both are great outlets to let me get my feelings out concerning my other passions.

Cook. Okay, fine. I ordered pizza this weekend. But I also made banana bread. From scratch! I even used a recipe book.

Nap. I accidentally fell asleep while binging TV today. It happens.

As we begin to move into the holiday season, where many of us will be in high demand and our lives are going to get even more busy…remember to take some time for yourself. Take care of you and be the best version you can. We don’t always do it. Sometimes we’re too busy taking care of others to even notice that we need a break.

So. Read the book. Take the nap. Go for the run. Take care of yourself.

Take Joy Where You Find It

This year, in many ways for may people, has been the worst. As Kyle pointed out on Monday, most of us are in need of a little pick-me-up. Some happiness. Some good cheer. I’ll continue Kyle’s theme, by sharing what happy plans are occupying my thoughts when I’m not yelling at the news, my elected officials, my general acquaintance to vote, or my contractors to finish my house. In other words, I’m almost never not yelling, but still.

Also, PLEASE VOTE.

Aaaaanywayyy, right now, my thoughts are consumed with planning for the Holidays. I know, I’m not usually one of those people, but here we are. Take joy where you find it. And reminder, Christmas is a mere 77 days away, people. I have kinda been prepping for this Christmas since last Christmas when I went a little nuts at Michael’s post holiday sale. Plus, my family has been not so casually mentioning how they can’t wait spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in the mountains at the new house. I say FINE WITH US!

Luckily for them there are TONS of Christmasy activities around the mountains where I live, and my husband and I are going to do alllll the things. When Meri came to visit in August I told her ALL about my plans, of which there are many. It’s a month-long itinerary where folks can pick and chose what they want to do with us, if anything. No pressure, of course. But who could resist stuff like:

  • Holiday Parade the day after Thanksgiving to start things off right
  • Tree cutting and sleigh ride high in the Rockies – I dare you to come up with anything more Christmasy than that
  • Holiday Hike to the Boulder Star – I’ll bring along adult hot cocoa for the top
  • Ice Skating and Pond Hockey – We’ll hike a mile to the pond near the house and pack spiced rum wassail and pasole. (Mine is a hiking/hockey playing family)
  • Cookie Decorating contest with rotating trophy

 

  • Last year’s Boulder Star hike with my sister.

I have more, but I thought I’d start slow. I’m most looking forward to the sleigh ride, tbh.

 

 

Things to Do When Everything Feels Terrible

If you’re like me and have been living in the sadness –> outrage –> dumbfounded –> rage –> sadness cycle for the last couple weeks, this past weekend has probably felt like the worst cherry on top of the shittiest sundae in hell.

Everything is just awful.

I’ll be honest – I thought I’d felt the worst of it after election night in 2016… boy howdy was I wrong. I suppose that, as bad as 2016 felt, there was still a sliver of hope that perhaps our elected officials would protect us from the inevitable insanity of the incoming administration. Now, it’s evident, that they will not – and we will have to live with those consequences for decades. I am incredibly disappointed in the shortsightedness of the leadership in Congress, and my heart is broken for every survivor who has put his or her story into the world and hasn’t been believed, has been laughed at, and has been told their trauma doesn’t matter.

Getting out of this rage cycle has been difficult – and isn’t being made better by the fact that everything else this weekend seems to be imploding too (I’m referring to the Packers, because good grief this game is painful to watch). Football is usually a good way for me to distract myself… but apparently not today. THANKS, GREEN BAY.

So, instead of football, I’m relying on a few other tried-and-true things to help me feel a little less despairing about what is happening in the world.

Baking

This is an easy one – I’m tapping in to my sourdough recipes and making some loaves to share. This particular recipe is actually one from my mom, so it’s special in that way, too. Anything that reminds me of my mama is a good way to make me feel better. Since I’m still alone for another month and half, I can’t eat two loaves of bread by myself in a timely enough fashion, so I’m sharing the fruits of my frustrations with my coworkers. Few things are better than fresh, home-baked bread. That’s a fact.

Westworld

Clay and I watched season one of Westworld when it came out last year (or the year before? I can’t remember.) but when season two started, life was just a bit too hectic to find time to sit down and watch it. I’ve found that’s generally the case with most shows on tv – I’m either too busy, or I’m prioritizing sleep, but I don’t have (or make) time to watch tv when it’s on. So. Clay and I decided to “watch” Westworld together while he’s gone – though he finished season two this weekend, so I’m currently working on catching up. It’s not exactly and uplifting show, but it is REALLY good, so it works for the distraction-from-reality thing.

The Gym

This should come as no surprise to anyone, but the gym is the place I go to take a break. Nearly every day, I know I can go in there and just focus on the work I need to get done. Each workout is a task – and I can just put my head down and grind until I get every task completed. This past week, the gym and the people I work out with have been necessary in finding something positive in every day. Lifting heavy things and getting my heart rate up are also just really good outlets for the aforementioned rage – it’s pretty good fuel when you need it.

Registering to VoteI’m registered, but I’m doing my damnedest to make sure everyone around me is, too. Helping people make a plan to get to the polls or securing their absentee ballots if they will be out of town. Election Day is less than a month away. The only hope I have to hang on to now is that come November, we will see some big changes in Congress. Something has to give – where we are right now is untenable. It won’t happen without people actually showing up to the polls. If we want change, we have to make it ourselves.

Anyways. This post has little to do with running – and I’m sure plenty of readers aren’t interested in hearing (reading) my politics, but avoiding what’s happening right now is a pretty privileged position. I’m not going to give up, even though right now it feels like we are in the darkest timeline.

We may very well be, but to quote Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

I’m choosing to find and be a light.

Girls on the Run is So Much Fun!

At the end of last year I was out on a run (and probably complaining about it on Instagram) when I got a message from a parent from my school. She mentioned that students in her class at the local university were coaching Girls on the Run as part of a class project and thought it would be something I’d like to do at our school.

I had heard about GOTR through social media and a few other things, but hadn’t really thought much about coaching or getting involved. I coached Cross Country at my school last year and that was my first experience with coaching anything, so I was interested to see what GOTR was all about.

We got in touch with the director, met with my principal, and applied for our school to become a site for GOTR over the summer. I also learned that a new teacher we’d hired was previously a coach and would also be interested in coaching…and Girls on the Run was born at my school.

Coach Ashley and Coach Randee in our matching shirts!

There were some logistical things to work out (still are) but we wrapped up our first week on a positive note and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season!

If you’re wondering what Girls on the Run even is, here’s a little information for you about their core values:

  • Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  • Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  • Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  • Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
  • Stand up for ourselves and others

Now, I’m a second grade teacher and the program is for 3-5 and 6-8 grade girls. I love these values and everything GOTR stands for. I believe it’s something my school tries to instill in all of our students and I’m so glad we got to bring this program in to help empower some of our girls.

I was nervous about whether or not we would have girls sign up, but we actually had so many that we had to bring in another coach and waitlist some girls for next season. A lot of these girls I’ve known since they were either in kindergarten or second grade, and some of them are my former students. I love the fact that some of my girls signed up because I was the coach, but I truly hope that they learn and grow from this program. What we’ve seen so far has been a lot of fun. The girls are eager to learn and participate in the lessons (even if I’m still learning them too!), they are already helping us problem solve (because it rains in Florida every afternoon), and they are learning how to encourage others. They had fun running inside last week when we had to move for rain and made the most of it!

It’s been one week. Two days! I am so looking forward to seeing these girls grow. I know there are some who will only enhance themselves and their own values, but there are also those that struggle. The older girls are getting to points where everyday is a challenge and there’s always something new to discourage them. Some of these girls are doing a lot of activities and are already learning to make choices about what they are good at and what they want to do. Some of them just need to know that someone is there for them to lend them a positive outlook on life.

The program allows girls to set their own running goals each week as they increase their time spent running and build up their stamina. So far our running has been minimal, but the girls are still having fun and setting goals for themselves.

Kyndall kept us (me) entertained while running and exceeded her run goal.

Presley set a goal and exceeded it. She’s a rockstar!

I’m already loving seeing these girls and their passion for running and fitness, and it’s only been one full week. Like I said, I can’t wait to see what these girls can and will do. I feel privileged to be their coach.