Life can be rough

Current location: sunny, very windy Cancun, Mexico. Vacation. Full disclosure: this girl lives for vacation. I dream about, plan, and work hard for vacations. 

Here is what happened today on my fabulous vacation. Wind. Making the Caribbean Sea VERY choppy. As the boyfriend and I played in the very rough waves a couple go thoughts crossed my mind. So I thought I would write about them. 

Life can be very rough (just like the sea)… How we handle the situation largely determines the outcome.
 Some days are rougher than others. Yesterday the waves were gentle and super fun. Not to say today wasn’t fun…. Just different. You can’t really judge one day by the last day. Don’t let the struggles of one day carry into the next. Wonder how much different life would be if we could just Let things Go and move on. Just a thought. 

The same circumstances are navigated differently by different people. The boyfriend is an entire foot taller than I am. He struggled less for that reason. He also weighs a little more than I do. You can not judge your experience based on someone else’s. This life is yours to live. Experience. Enjoy the ride. 

Don’t give up. Today it seriously felt like Tonya VS. the sea. And I felt like I was losing. Getting beat up. One wave felt like it slapped me straight in the face. However I was determined to not give up. The reward was totally worth it. As in life. Things that are worth it, don’t usually come easy. 

Surround yourself with people who have your back. Dave (that’s the boyfriend) saw me struggling a time or two. So he reached out and grabbed my hand. He even said “I’m going to just hang onto you, because if I don’t, you seem to float away.” I’ve found an important key in life is surrounding yourself with people who let you be yourself. But also call you out when you are not so much being yourself. Also keep you from danger (don’t let you drown) and don’t let you backslide. I am blessed to have a LOT of these people in my life. 

Sometimes we just need to take a break. Relax! It’s quite amazing how a break from your normal life can reset you. Makes you take some deep breaths. Stop, realize what is really important in life. Think on how blessed you are. Getting some space from the daily stresses of life= Good. 

Life is full of things to be afraid of. The sea is a very dangerous place. Those waves were very powerful. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced. However, we can’t stop that from letting us live. Being in a foreign country were we don’t know the culture, the language, the customs… Could have stopped us from exploring, but it didn’t. Be safe. Have fun. But live life.

I love the sun, sun makes me extremely happy. Winter in Minnesota sucks for a lot of reasons, one of those reasons is lack of sun. However… Too much sun isn’t good either. Just ask parts of my body that got slightly red due to overexposer. Shade became our friend. Life is about finding balance. We can’t just always sit on the beach. Life is more than vacation, I guess. 

 Life can be rough… But it’s also a wonderful, magical, fantastic adventure. Embrace the ride.  

That’s all for now!

Redefining success

So…I’ve struggled with writing this blog for months. MONTHS! And I think I’ve got a good idea why. Success is something I don’t feel qualified to talk about. And I’ll tell you why in just a second, but first I just have to say it’s because if those very things I just might be perfectly qualified to write this blog. Here’s the thing. I fail. A lot. 

I fail at maintaining a positive attitude (choosing joy if you will). 

I fail at being the kind of friend/ daughter/ sister/ auntie/ cousin/ coworker/ employee  (You get the idea) that I would like to be. 

I fail at being a good girlfriend (I take out a lot of my attitude and issues on my wonderful, loving, and very understanding boyfriend). 

I fail at returning phone calls (sorry grandma!) 

I fail at doing stuff. I have a lot of great ideas and fail at following through. 

I fail at making good choices… I try… But that dang sweet tooth!!! And that emotion eating thing. And onion rings. 

I fail at my job… More than I would care to admit. 

I fail at keeping track of my checkbook (thank God for my mother) 

I fail at reading my Bible regularly. 

I fail at being in the moment sometimes. 

I can’t even manage to take a ONE a day vitamin for crying out loud. 

When I was growing up I always figured that by 35 I would be married. Have a houseful (more like 2 kids) a house and a dog. I would be working as a kindergarten teacher and loving life. Well… Life had other plans. There is NO freaking way that 17 years as a bill collector (well… Some of those were customer service years) was something I thought of. Ever! But does that mean I’m not successful? I don’t hit my “goal” at work every month. But does that make me a failure? Am I trying new things? Am I going outside my comfort zone?  Am I changing lives? How’s my attitude? I think these are the things that should be defining my work succes. It’s hard…..VERY hard to see that in the moment, but sometimes I need to step back and realize it. 

What I realized when thinking about this whole thing is that sometimes your definition changes over time. When I started my weight loss journey I viewed success as me fitting in a size 10 jeans. No lie. However…. Today if I had to buy a size 10 I would be disappointed in myself. Not because there is ANYTHING wrong with being a size 10, but because I am currently like a size 3-4. And me going back to a 10 at this point would really show I had given Up.   This isn’t about pants size… It’s about how perspective changes as time passes and goals are hit or things change.  On a related topic when I started thinking about wanting to run, I wanted to 30 seconds, yes SECONDS!  Without feeling like I was going to die. Now, I run 5 miles for fun. Things change, the definition has to change at some point.  

I guess I say all this to pose a question. What does success look like to you? How do you define success? I asked this question on my Facebook and had several conversations with people about it. I got lot of interesting answers. Some very specific summed up as results define success. A lot of people said they define success by how happy they are. Some people responded that it’s the seeds you plant and the legacy that you leave behind that really defines success. 

I guess what I’m learning is that it’s the daily things that add up to success. I’m still trying to figure this all out. I’m not perfect. And you know what?!?! . I’m going to keep failing. Maybe success is not letting that failure define me. Maybe it’s not letting failure keep me from keeping on trying. Maybe it’s getting back up once I’ve been knocked down. Idiot really know the answer…. 

What are your thoughts? 

If you can’t say something nice…. 

Warning rant ahead. But bear with me…. It gets good. But first a little background. Friday I was hanging out with the boyfriend and he had to run an errand for an hour or so. My first thought was “do I have enough time for a run?!?” Pretty sure there was a sparkle of joy in my eye as I said it. My second thought was “yup… I’m a runner”  He said “go for it… But not too far cuz we are going to go for a walk when I get back” seemed like a deal to me. So first I had to define “short”… So I decided that anything less than 5 miles was short. Well…  

 4.75 is less than 5! Hehe. Anyways, this is what happened on my run. I was out… Minding my own business… Enjoying a lovely Minnesota summer night.I’m running across the bridge when some idiot yells out his window something about me being slow. For the next 4 miles I had all sorts of thought percolating in my brain. Before I get into my rant I just want to say I know I’m not the fastest runner… And I am 100% OKAY with it. Sometimes I just run to clear my mind. Sometimes I run for fun or to release stress. Sometimes I run Because I Really…. REALLY like food… (You get the idea)… 

Here is what at I took from this little “insult” 

First off. You don’t know me. Which means you don’t know how far I’ve come. You don’t know the battles that I fight on a daily or hourly basis. You don’t know what I struggle with.   

  

In other words. Shut your face. Why do you have to try and put others down? Keep that crap to yourself. But also…. Don’t let other  people’s negativity hold you back from doing your thing!!! Who cares what people think! You go out there and be amazing…. And pay no attention to their negativity. I also realized I had a choice to let his observation define and ruin me… Or help push me forward… I didn’t let him continue the outcome. I win!  

  
Don’t give into your own negativity. I am my own worst critic most of the time… And can get down on myself real quick. Don’t do that. It’s not helpful. And most of all Don’t quit. What Happens then?!?  We go back to where we started… Or worse? And how does that feel?!? Keep pressing on. It’s worth it. 

  
I get a lot of smiles, nods and waves from people when I’m out running. You have no idea how much that pushes me along. Why can’t we be that? People who encourage and build each other up?!?! 

Bottom line: you have no freaking idea how hard I worked to get to… And stay where I am. Still not exactly where I wanna be… But heck of a lot further than I once was. 

Also. This is just as true in running as it is in life. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we set aside our differences  and just encouraged each other to follow our dreams. Hmmm… Something to think about…. 

Tribute to my friend Beki

A month ago today I was wishing my friend Beki a happy birthday on Facebook. 10 days later I posted this:  

 Almost a month later it still doesn’t feel real.

I’ve know Beki and her whole family since I was 6 years old. We all grew up together: here is a little flashback photo:  

 Me, Karissa, Rachel, Brittany, Beki and Luke. 

I don’t know why Niki isn’t in this photo… But this was my family growing up. These were my people. My safe place. My sanctuary.  

When I heard the news of Beki’s passing my world just stopped for a moment. I mean really. She is only three years older than me. It just can’t be true. But… It was. It is.  So… In order for this girl to process I did what I  do and I went for a run. A run to grieve, to remember Beki… A run to help me make sense of it all. So, I set out last Saturday on a little memorial run… A run for Beki. I chose a route that went through our old neighborhood, took a little trip down “memory lane” if you will. I chose to run 7.11 to celebrate her life. (Her birthday is July 11th). And listened to praise and worship music because she loved to sing (and had the voice of an angel) …and worshipping was her favorite. 

   I stopped along the way to snap some photos. I fought back tears a few times, smiled a bunch when I was thinking of different memories and I wanted to quit more than once. But I kept pushing.  

 This is the place it all began. soooooooooo many memories here. I ran passed twice because it was so emotional the first time. I thank God that He had us all living here at the same time.  

 Even better than our neighborhood was when we got to go to Cherry Lane. We thought we were hot stuff when we could! Also where most of my Halloween memories take place!  

However most of my Beki memories take place at Apollo high School. I couldn’t make it to Apollo on my run. But what I do have are memories getting off at this bus stop:

 
And walking the three blocks home and Beki and I giggling because I would have to go to the bathroom so bad that I would walk funny. She would continue to bring up this memory into adulthood. We had such a good time in high school. I was a quiet, shy girl who didn’t have many friends in school. Beki and I would hang out between classes in the music room and play the piano. She taught me a lot, about music and life. We even convinced a teacher we were actually sisters. She refused to let me have a bad day and would do anything to make me smile. Always had a joke or story to brighten my day. She was just Such a great listener!! 

Besides memories here are some thoughts I wanted to share from my run. 

Beki oozed Jesus. She was the girl in high school who brought her bible to school. She didn’t care what other people thought.  She was always there to quote a bible verse or teach me about Jesus. She just wanted people to know Him, but she didn’t push it down thier throats… She did it through love. 

I know she is without pain is and having the biggest party in Heaven with her Jesus. Something she lived her life for. I can’t be sad for that!! I am sad for the rest of us. Her parents, her sisters and especially her nieces. Beki was full of love for everyone…but had a special connection to her nieces and it breaks my heart that they won’t get to grow up with her like I did. I consider myself extremely blessed to have had such a great friend…especially during high school which can be a really awkward, difficult time. 

She was true to herself. 

She put others before herself.

She lived “choose joy” 

And after all that I decided what I need to do make her proud. Drop some of the negativity that I’ve been carrying. Realize that life really just is so short and you never know when it’s over. Live the life I’ve been given. Shine like the stars.  Let people know that I love them. Be a good listener, it really make people feel cared for. Be a friend. Have fun. Smile. Laugh.

Of course I could go on… And on… But I’ll end with this: 

Beki (along with her big sister Niki) were both like big sisters to me.  I hope to make them proud. Rest in peace Beki. Your memory will live on…and we will keep your spirit alive. 

🎶🎶🎶 you are the wind beneath my wings🎶🎶

  

Thoughts from my therapy run 

So… 4 days ago I turned 35. Thirty. five. That means I am 5 years into my thirties. Like I’m edging closer to 40 every day. Before I Get to why this is a big deal… I have to show you how I celebrated my birthday  

 A run, a cupcake and some time with the boyfriend. All around a really great day. Anyways.. Moving on… 

Truth of the matter is I think it’s kinda bugging me a little. Making my brain a little foggy and making wearing my “crabby pants” way to easy these days. Sometimes I just stare off into space. Some days the whole “Choosing Joy” thing  just isn’t that easy. However tonight on my run I think I worked some things out. Weird as it sounds I think I’m having a “midlife crisis” if you will. Here’s the deal. Growing up you have this picture of what your life will be when you “grow up”… Right?!? My picture included a house, a husband, twins a dog and a job as a teacher. I even “knew” who this husband was supposed to be for years and years. Of course I was way to young to “know” this.. Not to mention that he was totally wrong for me…but that’s beside the point. Back to the picture… It of course had a deadline. I was thinking 30 would be when this would all fall in place. Ummm.. About that… 

 

Lake George. tonights therapy


 I am 35. I have….an apartment, no husband, no kids, a fat….lazy diabetic cat… And a job as a bill collector. Sometimes it seems like my siblings got everything that I wanted.. You see I am the oldest of 5 kids. One of my sisters has the twins I always wanted (plus another adorable little boy) . One of them is running a daycare (that was actually what I went to college for), my other sister is married and has a dog! and my brother has 2 adorable children. People that I graduated with have teenagers!!!  Those are the facts. My life isn’t what I thought it would be. I am not the person I thought I would “grow up” to be…and everyone “seems” to have what I wanted. Or thought I wanted….. 

Here is the conclusion I came to when I was running tonight. I am freakin blessed. I have a great life and I need to out on my big girl panties and realize  it. Here is the deal. I don’t have a house (I did at one point, that’s another story) …but I love my apartment! I don’t have a husband….but I do have a pretty terrific boyfriend. I do not have any kids… But I do have 4 awesome nephews and one amazing niece. I have a little bestie and a littlest bestie whom I lobe very much. I have the two girls I baby sat for almost their entire lives. I have cousins, and cousins kids and church kids and….. You get the point. God has placed a ton of kids in my life to have influence on. And as far the at the cat thing goes: IMG_3712 

  I kinda like him. I have gotten to travel and see so many things that I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to do!!  And the job thing… Some days a it really sucks. Some days it really stresses me out. Some days it makes me want to start drinking (I don’t drink, never have)… On the other hand some days it’s exciting and fun… And I honestly feel like I am changing people’s lives for the better. And then I realize I can afford things like vacations ( I really like vacation!!) and insulin for my diabetic cat…and shoes, running shoes!! And… Well, you get the point…. because of my job… It makes it not so bad. 

Bottom line from tonight’s 5 mile therapy run was this. No, I am not living the life imagined I would be when I was little. But I have a pretty freaking amazing life. I just needed a little wake up call to realize it. I have people around me who love me (even when I am unlovable) and that is what really matters. Thinking that what God had figured out for My life was a little (okay… Maybe A lOT) better than what I thought. And I may be 35… But I refuse to grow up. Cuz that in an option. I am, and will always be, just a big kid. And I kinda like the person I am becoming. As far as the rest of my life goes…. We shall see. Life is an adventure and I’m excited to see what’s in store. 

Legacy 

I have been thinking a lot about death recently. It all started when Prince died. It was April 21st 2016. A day many Americans will not forget and a day the world turned purple to honor and remember him. Here are a few images that were floating around the Internet of how cities remembered him: 

   
   
The world mourned and you heard tribute after tribute of how he inspired people. Musicians, famous people and well…. America.  As a graduate of the class of 1999 our graduation anthem  was 1999 by Prince. Full disclosure I never really got into his music much. I was more a boy band girl myself. However I can not deny his unbelievable talent. Or the widespread impact of his musical talent and his life. 

So here is what it got me thinking. What is my legacy? What will people say about me when I am gone? What kind of impact am I making? Am I living my life in such a way that I can look back and be proud of the person I was?  What have I done to make a difference? To make the world a better place? Is my generosity reaching further than I could ever imagine? Is my kindness being felt by others? Am I someone people enjoy being around? Am I using my talents and abilities to Impact others in a positive way? 

I guess you could say it left me asking a lot of questions and examining my attitude and my actions. Questioning how I make people feel… Wondering…. What I can do to make the world a better place? I still don’t know how that all plays out or what that looks like… But it’s rolling around in my brain, but it is there. 

I have heard it said that we should live your life so that the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral.  I am endeavoring to live a life that I am proud of… And maybe writing this will inspire someone else to do the same. Is that to say that I won’t screw it up… Fall down and fail miserably? Nope! Have ya met me? I am not perfect. But… That’s the beauty. We keep learning and growing. Let’s create a life worth remembering. 

Christmassy thoughts for you to ponder

Christmassy thoughts for you to ponder

It’s Christmas Eve!!!

So I’ve been deep in thought about Christmas once again. Was getting my hair cut the other day when I ended up in a conversation about Christmas. The hype is crazy. The pressure to get the right thing, to spend enough money, to decorate just right, to make all the goodies PINTREST worthy, to make everything just perfect. We live in a culture of abundance. Too many presents, too much food. Too much hussle. Too much bustle. 

My challenge to you is think about how you remember your Christmas growing up. Do you remember what you “got”. The girl cutting my hair and I could each think of 3 things we got. 3!!!! However, I look back fondly on my Christmases growing up. Some of my most treasured memories are of time spent with my family at Christmas. Was a time of the year where we just spend time together. My mom worked her butt off all year round to provide for us. But Christmas Eve was a time we could all be together. 

These are some of my most treasured memories:

Visits with Santa

 

This happens to be my favorite photo of Santa and I.

Christmas crafts were big in my house. Painting ceramics. 

Decorating the house was also fun. Christmas music in the background. All of us kids working together to make the house look festive.  We always had presents on the wall

Driving around looking at Christmas lights.

Christmas programs.  Journey to the center of Christmas! 

Going to candle light service at church and mom dripping wax on her hand. Also mom trying so hard to clap along to the songs and having no rhythm. Getting home from church and having treats and pizza for dinner. And opening presents sitting around the tree. 

Most of all was baking cookies. Eating so much cookie dough and frosting that I had a giant stomach ache (totally worth it!) my brother throwing cookie dough on the Ceiling to see if it would stick. Using too much flour and making a giant mess… Always ending in a flour fight. Having contests to see who could make the prettiest cookie. Getting yelled at for sneaking a cookie cuz those were for the people mom worked with. Also getting “the look” when I “accidentally” got frosting on my fingers and then licked them… Oops! Then getting excited when we got to eat them. Cookies for breakfast! 

My sister coming down in her undies Christmas morning to open gifts. Sorry sister, it’s adorable and part of my memories 😉 (I’ll spare the photo on this one)   Ps. She was little! 

I always enjoyed everyone else opening their presents, and always wanted to be the one to hand themall out.  (Even when I was in first grade and had just had my tonsils out).  Here is a photo of me watching the gift opening:  

Playing games all day Christmas Day with my siblings. Just being together. Enjoying each other. We didn’t always get along, but we tried on Christmas.  It didn’t matter if it was board games, marbles, Legos, Nintendo or some made up game we came up with. We just hung out! 

 Here is our Christmas In a nutshell. Love the coordinating wind suits. Notice how we aren’t real thrilled about the “lets take a photo thing” makes me giggle. 

And In case you are wondering what gifts I remembered: 

 

My new kids on the block comforter!

My pen-doodle-um. The coolest craft thing ever!

The other was my “cheerleader wanna be doll” but I don’t have a photo of her. But I did find this photo of my Hyper-color sweatshirt that’s loved as well. If you don’t know what hyper color is… You are missing out!   

So.. To wrap it all up. *notice the pun*

For me. Christmas is about being present. Not the presents. It’s about spending time with family. Not money on family. It’s about giving and not getting. It’s about love and kindness. Finding the true meaning of the season. And of course cookies and frosting. 

Merry Christmas and God Bless. And find the magic in the season.