When Things Aren’t Perfect

Life can be fricking hard, yo. I don’t have it figured out, but I do know what helps me when things get tough. Today, I’m sharing some thoughts about dealing with life’s struggles. I hope they help you, too, and always be kind to yourself.

 

Guest Post: You Are Full of Power

Several months ago now, I ran a half marathon, and Kyle asked if I would be interested in writing something about my training process. I would sit down and type a little bit, only to feel dissatisfied with what I had written, and ultimately, I never responded to her request. I don’t know what prompted this realization, but this weekend I figured out why I was hiding from expressing my thoughts and feelings.Despite training for and completing the half marathon, over the past year I’ve regained 45 pounds of an 80-pound weight loss, and I have felt like a failure. I have been letting a setback eclipse a huge success. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to celebrate my victories, and allow them to motivate me to rise up from my setbacks. From a lot of reflection this past weekend about the mental and emotional aspects of health and fitness, here are a few thoughts I want to hold onto, and want to share with others on the journey:

Every person on a health and fitness journey is qualified to be an encourager. My feelings of unworthiness to speak into someone else’s journey are based on a lie – that I have to “get there” before I can be a true encouragement to someone else. There are people who I find inspirational, who I look to for where I want to be, and then there are people who are or have been where I am now. Those people are just as important – they “get it”. They understand the frustration of having to redefine a relationship with food because it can’t be completely cut out. They understand the mental tightrope of eating to fuel your body vs. forcing yourself to exercise more than necessary so you can eat things in excess. We’re all walking this road together, and the people walking with you are just as qualified to speak into your journey as the people who go before you.

You are full of power. A friend told me this weekend that I engage in really negative self-talk, and that I should be kind to myself more often. Her son, a teenage boy in our church, had just been talking to me about my progress in my quest to learn how to play hockey, and he said to me, “Mrs. Katie…your body looks like you are full of power.” Sometimes I place so much importance on being honest about where I am and what I struggle with that I forget to repeat to myself the positive things that are true: I AM full of power. I am capable of reaching my goals. Fit your mantra to your season – my new season of self-improvement and self-empowerment, each lift and sprint and hockey drill, will be marked with a mantra of kindness to myself; the true and life-giving reminder that I am full of power.  

There are success factors in your life already. Give thanks for them, even as you struggle. I tend to get mentally trapped in the rut of what I can’t do and what I wish I could change. I think about how I’m not athletically inclined, not a person who loves yogurt and vegetables and healthy things, etc. But another realization I had this weekend is that in certain and really significant ways, I am set up for success. My husband will eat whatever Skinnytaste recipe I decide to make for dinner without complaining; he never pressures me to cheat on my meal plan; he will agree to make room in our budget for any and all fitness activities that I enjoy and think will help me progress. He never asks me to lose weight and only encourages me to do so for myself, so that I will feel better. He ran some really slow miles on his days off to help me get in my long runs during half marathon training. Whatever is against you – body type, health issues, busyness – remember that there are things that are working FOR you, and to give thanks for them. Gratefulness can combat the feeling of deprivation when you choose not to eat that thing that everyone else is eating. With regard to my half marathon – I ran the Savin Rock Half Marathon and despite the weight gain I’ve seen over the last year, I was able to finish and meet my two goals for the race in the process: to run/jog it all without stopping to walk and to do so in under 3 hours. I finished in 2 hours, 50 minutes and jogged every last insanely steep hill in the fierce spring winds of the Long Island Sound. One mental hurtle cleared, and now…I’m ready to crush my next goal, stick on the ice, head in the game, to be the first woman on my husband’s hockey team of Air Force bros. And I’m GOING to crush it, because I am full of power.

Guest Post – More Life Less Running

The last few months have been rough, I’m not going to lie. I’ve battled my share of injuries and illness (the flu, major IT Band pain and a sprained shoulder), as well as two family deaths and a couple other issues. All of which derailed my running to the point that since May 27, I’ve had my running shoes on a total of 4 times – and 3 of those came in the last week when I finally felt well enough to run again.

While I’ve missed running, really missed my running buddies, and started to panic about some upcoming races I haven’t been training for, it’s also given me a chance to enjoy other activities and more time with my family – time that normally I’d be spending putting miles in. So instead of running, I’ve been focusing on other outdoor activities that I can do with my husband and stepdaughters (none of them are runners – unless perhaps they’re being chased by something!).

My husband and I have been camping almost every weekend – we own a small motorhome, so each week we draw a circle on the map, see where we can go within 2-3 hours of our house, and head out. From our home near Lansing, Michigan, we can get to locations in Indiana, Ohio and even Canada pretty quickly. We’ve discovered new parks, lakes, historical attractions, hiking trails, and off the beaten path places we wouldn’t have otherwise. We both love hiking and biking, so we try to find places where we can do one or both activities.

The whole family owns kayaks, so we’ve headed out to local lakes to enjoy some family time away from our electronics. If you’ve never kayaked, I highly recommend it – especially on lakes, marshes or streams with limited activity. When it’s quiet you get to see things like turtles, heron, muskrat, river otters, water snakes, birds, frogs and more. It’s amazing what goes on in the water when you can just sit and observe.

While this isn’t a family activity, I happen to work at a university with an outdoor 50m pool that staff have access to in the summer. As a former competitive swimmer, I still find myself more at home in the chlorine than in running shoes, so I’ve been putting in as many laps as I can a few days a week. Swimming bonus – I’ve developed an awesome swimsuit tan on my back as a result! 😉

What being injured these past couple months made me realize was that running had started to consume me – and while I don’t plan to give it up anytime soon (I still have a couple goals to conquer), it forced me to find a balance to do other things, especially things with my family.

Some might not agree with me, but life’s too short to be spending it all working out. Take a couple nights or weekends off, grab your kids, lace up your hiking shoes, rent a kayak and get outdoor and enjoy life’s treasures. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Who is Jessi? Jessi is a runner, triathlete, Jaycee, chocoholic, Disney fanatic, traveler, Broadway addict, boardgame enthusiast, and sock collector whose favorite mantra is Not All Who Wander Are Lost. You can find her supporting her two stepdaughters in their activities, camping with her husband, doting on her cat, and spending her free time with family and friends. Read more about Jessi’s adventures on her blog www.runningthroughlife.wordpress.com

5 Things to Know Before You Get Married

A few weeks back, I celebrated my fifteen year wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart, Rick. We were together for eight years before we married so we’re celebrating almost twenty-five years together. We’ve learned a LOT in that time. We’ve watched nearly all of our friends marry, have kids, and divorce. We’re the last ones standing so-to-speak, and since I’m occasionally asked for marriage advice, I thought maybe I’d share a little bit of what I end up telling those who ask. This mindset is what works for me, but I don’t pretend that I’m an expert an any way, but here goes.

  • Make sure you’re in love with the person and the vision of your future together, and not just in love with the idea of a wedding. If only I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard young women wax on and on about their wedding and then look like a deer in headlights when I ask “what goals do you have after the wedding?” I strongly feel this is a common mistake with young women. We’re groomed from such an early age to dream about being married to our prince charming in the perfect gown and having our special day where we’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world. The reality is that your wedding day zooms by so fast you hardly remember it later and what’s left is a gorgeous gown, some amazing photos, and that person you wake up next to every morning for the rest of forever. That person is the reason to get married, not the gown, the reception, the gifts, or the attention. And not because he/she will give you a family, your own house, or financial security, or because you were told your whole life that you’re supposed to get married and have kids because that’s what grown-ups do, but because you are madly in love with them. Love is the reason to get married, and it’s the only reason because if you don’t have love, you won’t stay married for long. Promise.
  • You don’t get to tell the other what to do. Just because you got married doesn’t mean that you get to tell your husband where he can go with whom and for how long any more than he can tell you what to do, how to dress, and that you can’t have guy friends. To be married, you must trust. You must trust your husband to make the right choices, and when he fails (like we all do), be there to help him through that and recover from his mistakes. That’s the “better or worse” part of your vows. You don’t surrender your free will or agency when you get married. He is his own person and so are you. You each have your own identity. I don’t care where my husband goes or with whom, just as long as I know whether or not he’ll be home in time for dinner or if I should just pour myself some cereal because I’m lazy.
  • Don’t ever make your spouse choose between you and their family. Sometimes loyalty can get tricky. When a situation arises that puts your spouse in a tough spot, don’t make it harder by putting them in the position of having to take sides. No one will win this way. I’m not saying you have to swallow genuine feelings to maintain harmony, but there is a graceful way to let your feelings and expectations be known without making your spouse feel like they’re being pulled in two directions. There are times to let it go, and there are times when you must quietly and firmly stand your ground and say “I am your wife/husband, and I deserve xyz. I need you to back me up this time.” Choose your battles, and choose diplomacy over war every time you can.
  • It’s going to be fucking hard sometimes. Marriage is work. For some, it’s constant work, for others it’s easier. I had a friend tell me once after being married for a short time, “This is too hard, it shouldn’t be so much work. He should just sweep me off my feet all the time.” Um, NOPE. I wish, but no. All these RomComs  and Disney movies have addled our female brains about the nature of true love and commitment. I guarantee you will have to put in effort to make your marriage happy and to make it last. Some days you won’t like your spouse at all. Sometimes, things are said and done that take a long time to heal and be forgiven for. We’re human after all, and sometimes we hurt those we love the most. My advice here is to be present, be accountable, and be compassionate. Own up to your half of the argument. Validate your spouse’s feelings. Listen to them. Support them, and help them grow and change to be a better person. Recognize when YOU need to grow and change to become a better person. We all need those closest to us to call out our bullshit and help us see ourselves for who we really are. The trick is to come out of that process with the love you took into it. Being humble in marriage is key.
  • Never stop talking and sharing. It’s cliché, but love, trust, and communication really are the bedrocks of a happy marriage (in my experience anyway). You need to laugh together and hold space for each other. You need to be emotionally available to your spouse and be comfortable sharing any and all feelings whether good or bad. You need to be able to hash out the hard stuff and appreciate the accomplishments. A strong foundation of love, trust, and communication will help you build a true partnership, and give you comfort in that you have a partner that you can always count on no matter what happens in life. As long as you’re both committed to the marriage and have love, you can work through the tough times and come out stronger and more in love than before. That’s a reward I feel many marriages don’t experience because we are a culture of giving up. I’m certainly not saying you should stay in a relationship that’s abusive in any way, but you must be honest about what marriage is really about. Sometimes it’s painful and uncomfortable, but if you have a core of love, trust, and communication, you can overcome as a team. Together. And believe it or not, your love for your spouse grows even deeper after you weather the trials together.

Then and Now, Prom ’94, and October ’14

What relationship advice has worked for you? Do you have wisdom to share? I always have something to learn, so share your tips in the comments.

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Made (and Remembered) With Love

On Tuesday, I found out that a good friend of mine – someone I’d known since middle school, who I’d skiied with, gone to school with, laughed with, learned with – was killed by a predatory bear while doing field work in Alaska.

Every day, I open Facebook and another one of Erin’s many friends or family members has written something beautiful about her. They’ve shared happy memories, amazing pictures of her adventures… and it’s at once so sad and so comforting to know that she was so well-loved.

She brightened so many lives and it’s just effing awful that she’s gone because the world is missing out on the incredible person she was and had yet to become.

Erin was always cooler than all of us.

Tuesday evening, I needed to do something with my hands so I could think about something else for just a little while. Tuesdays in the summer are also traditionally pancake nights in our house, so I pulled out my sourdough starter and got to work.

This starter is special to me for a couple of reasons. One, it was a gift from my mom for my wedding. Two, it’s starter she made in Alaska and feels like home. I needed a little bit of home this week. 

Along with the starter, my mom gave me a few of her sourdough recipes: brownies (omg), biscuits (below), and pancakes. The biscuits might be my favorites, but they’re all delicious. 
The sourdough pancake recipe as become my go-to this summer, though. One batch makes a huge stack of the most delicious ‘cakes ever. Clay likes his with chocolate chips, I take mine plain, and lately, my mom has tried making them with slices of apple baked in. As is the case with most pancakes, the possibilities are nearly endless.

My mom’s pancake recipe is as follows, for anyone interested in trying for themselves. If you want to try your hand at making sourdough (if you don’t have some already), it’s actually pretty simple. King Arthur Flour has a great post about how to do it.

I usually add a little flour (around 1/4 cup, maybe less) to the batter, because I like my pancakes a little thicker, but the recipe as-written is generally perfect. Seriously. Look at these.

Mom’s pancakes this week became comfort food – and I’m okay with that. They reminded me of home and home is where I want to be right now, to be close to the community I grew up in, and to give hugs to those who need them.

Erin was a little spark of magic on earth.

This weekend, Clay and I are going to go climb some mountains I think – feels like an appropriate way to honor Erin and remember her adventurous spirit. <3

 

A Food & Flowers Picture Post From Whole Foods

A new Whole Foods opened up, and it’s the closest one to my house! I’m excited because, well, Whole Foods, AND healthy eating is good, right?? So I got to go to a grand opening tour and I took tons of pictures and recorded it on Facebook live (at the request of Whole Foods Boulder/Longmont). So If you’ve never been to one, here’s what it’s all about!

First, let’s start with the floral department since it’s always by the entrance, and it’s my favorite of all floral departments in any grocery store. And because pretty. And we need some beauty in our lives.

Looks and smells like summer.

Then you walk through the produce, and I’ll let the tour guide take over from here. (Apologies for the spotty cell reception I was getting on my iPhone.)

Not bad, eh? I also love the personal care section. They have great bath items (I’m a fan of relaxing soaks), and you can even find the perfect gift.

It’s bar soap, folks. Handmade. Smells amazing!

LOVE this.

What Boulder smelled like when I was a kid.

And they also fed us, which always makes for happy bloggers. 

Whole Foods is really about the idea of LOHAS; Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability, and it’s reflected in their products and company policies and operations. Their mission statement says “… we offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from values.” So while they have a reputation for being pricey, which to be frank, can be true depending on the item, remember that with those extra dollars you’re supporting values like sustainable sourcing, fair wages for workers, and local farms to name a few.

What is your favorite store? Do you have Wegmans? Because I don’t and I want to know all about it!

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Finding Gratitude in a Noisy Crowd

Last week, I experienced an almost spiritual moment of gratitude. I was at a concert, a Tool concert to be specific. As I stood in the 12th row, my hair literally blowing from the sound waves (maybe I should have worn earplugs?), I was overtaken by sadness when I thought about my late grandma.

Yes, my grandma. At a Tool show. I know it’s strange, but stay with me here.

I realized how much she would have loved it, and how I wish I had taken her to a rock concert before she passed away in 2003. I imagined her throaty giggle as the sound waves vibrated in her chest. Her eyes full of excitement from the drummer’s insane solo as it ricochets around the arena. I could easily imagine this experience moving her to tears.

My grandma was deaf. She had scarlet fever as an infant and it stole her hearing. She grew up in the WWII era, and was sent to a deaf school. Her parents and siblings did not learn sign language. As was common at that time, deafness was associated with a lack of intelligence, and deaf folks were relegated to low-wage jobs and sub-standard education. She grew up, married a deaf man, and they had four hearing children. They refused to teach any of the children sign language for fear the kids would have the same stigma attached to them.

Grandma Beverly

Grandma Beverly

My mother was one of those four, and she and I learned to sign when I was eight. Grandma gave me a Sesame Street signing book, and she was so thrilled when I was able to tell her what I was learning about in school. I’d show her my favorite signs over and over, like dreamturtle, and grandma, but she never tired of it.  Although I was (and still am) a horrible speller, she pretended to understand what I finger-spelled to her. She had the most amazing laugh, because it was complete abandon every time. Guttural, loud, and full of life. She didn’t know about “indoor voices”. Just recalling the sound of it makes me laugh thirteen years after I heard it last.

My favorite memory of her is when I took her to a doctor appointment, and blasted Snoop Dogg from the stereo as we drove. I look over, and there is my grandma, bobbing her head and tapping her foot to the bass vibration in the car. She asked me what kind of music it was and when I told her, I was rewarded with her best laugh ever.

Not long before she passed, she got new hearing aides. We gathered at my mom’s house to fill out and send my wedding invitations. My mom messed up on one of the envelopes, so she crumpled it up in a ball and tossed it aside. Grandma’s eyes got huge!

“What was that noise?” She signed.

“It was the envelope,” I told her and replicated the crumple action.

“Paper makes noise?!?” She asked, totally astounded.  She’d heard the crumple sound for the first time.

Imagine that. Imagine not knowing that virtually everything makes some sort of noise. Imagine how wondrous each sound would be as you discovered it for the first time at the age of 63. Then she heard my mother’s (her daughter’s) laugh for the first time and she cried.

That’s why I know she would have loved the Tool show. She’d have loved the vibration of the music, the feeling of a sold out crowd united by what they are hearing. She didn’t get to experience music, or her childrens’ laughter, or the sound of thunder or ocean waves.

pepsicenter

Everyone was jealous of our seats

So when I was at the Tool show, being bombarded with amazing guitar riffs, the gratitude hit me. We are so lucky. Fortunate. Blessed. I try really hard not to take experiences for granted. In my opinion, they are the most important thing. Possessions are only things that lose their shine and usefulness over time, but experiences teach you, they broaden you, and they make you more interesting. Plus, they don’t go out of style and they can’t break like things do.

Me and the Mr. #twelfthrowseats

Me and the Mr. #twelfthrow

Have some experiences that push you and scare you a little. Do the things you have passion for. Do ALL the things. Don’t squander the chance to enjoy every moment of life. It’s the simplest experiences that can give us the most happiness. Don’t forget to be present.

That time I wrastled a gator.

That time I wrastled a gator.

 

What are your favorite adventures? What’s on your bucket list? How do you savor you life? Let’s share!

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