Friday, August 7, 2015

We Are Blessed

"You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less." (Matthew 5:5)

My friend, Sharon, posted Matthew 5:5-10 (read the whole thing here) on Facebook this morning. As I read that first verse, I was reminded of a song - "We Are Blessed" by All Sons & Daughters. I pulled up a video of it on YouTube and as I sat listening, I had the overwhelming sense that I had to get out my computer and write so that I could tell you just how very blessed I feel lately.

The strange thing is, when I tell you what's going on in my life right now, you might not see a lot of blessing right away. 

My sweet, funny, amazing guy - Dan - has ulcerative colitis. UC is an autoimmune disorder that falls under the "Irritable Bowel Disorder" umbrella, and it's as unpleasant as it sounds. Dan was in the hospital for 3 weeks back in March because his flare up of the disease couldn't be controlled well. We thought it had calmed down, but a few weeks ago it flared up again. He's been battling a bacterial infection that hasn't gone away despite very, very high doses of antibiotics. Then, thanks to these high doses of antibiotics, he recently ended up with a fungal infection. He's pretty much a hot mess -- emphasis on the hot part because he's also incredibly handsome. ;-)

So where's the blessing? 

I am blessed because God gave me this fascination with learning about nutrition and digestive health - despite having no digestive issues myself. 

I am blessed because I love to cook and I can cook healthy meals for Dan that ease his disease.

I am blessed because God gives me patience to trust Him.

I am blessed because God gives me the ability to see the light at the end of every tunnel - even when the tunnel is long and the light is faint.

I am blessed because God is giving me the opportunity to serve someone else.

I am blessed because I am loved and appreciated and valued by God, and by Dan.

I see the blessing all around me in this situation. Blessings don't come only in the good times. It's often in the times of trial that we can see the most blessing - but only if you look for them. It reminds me of the lyrics of a favorite song "I will look up, for there is none above You. I will bow down, to tell You that I need You, Jesus Lord of All. I will look back and see that You are faithful. I look ahead, believing You are able." The key there - is we have to do the looking. 

If you're struggling - look around you. Look up. Bow down. Look back. Look ahead. There's blessing somewhere. It might not be big, it might not be show stopping and dramatic - but it's there. God does not allow us to suffer in vain. 

I am blessed because, through the storms of life - God has given me someone to share the umbrella with.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Five - Something New

Here's a very random "Friday Five" for you...including a life changing beverage. You're welcome.

1. I wrote this list of upcoming races on a post in April. I laughed out loud yesterday when I was looking back at this list and realized that so far I've only actually done 1 of the 5 - the Double Creek 5k, which I actually just walked and did in about 48 minutes. HA! I just did not feel like racing, or even running much, the past month or so. In fact, I just took a solid month long break from running almost completely.
2. Last night, for the first time in years, I donned a swim cap and goggles for some lap swimming! More on this later - but my goal for this next round of half marathon training is a focus on cross training. Admittedly, I was SO NERVOUS about hitting the pool because it was new. My sweet friend Steph said "put on your big girl panties and GO!" - haha!!! Thanks for the encouragement - and apparently my big girl panties look an awful lot like a hot pink one piece swimsuit.

3. Anyone who is an introvert - you totally get this. My boyfriend, Dan, is a total extrovert. But for me, there are times when I just can't be around people. I get a "people hangover" sometimes - haha! There's a bit of a learning curve when dealing with this in a relationship. I want to be around Dan a lot, and sometimes that comes at the expense of my own self-care. It's important for me, and for our relationship, that I speak up and say "I just need some down time" - and Dan is always okay with that and totally understanding. And we're both happier when I'm not being a grump - ha!

4. I felt like I needed to share this with you. This grapefruit vodka is life changing. My friend Brett introduced me to it and I can now thank him for less money in my bank account and more calories in my belly. But it's worth it. 

5. I had to stop at Starbucks (or "5bucks" as Dan calls it) on my way home from the gym today because the only coffee I had at home was from Aldi. I love dark roast, black coffee. I like the bitter taste of it. But Aldi's dark's awful. It tastes like I'm drinking a glass of burned tree bark. So I HAD to get this coffee. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Selfies

Oh hey look - it's the middle of July and I've been doing a million things this summer and blogging has NOT been one of them. Oops. So, allow me to sum up my summer thus far with a series of selfies...because the internet needs more selfies.

This summer began the same way every summer for the past 6 years has - with a few days at the beach with some girlfriends! I taught with this fabulous group of ladies for less than one whole year about 6 years ago, but we really clicked. Every year since, we've kicked off summer with 2-3 days staying in Ocean Pines, MD at Michele's (3rd from the right) beach house. It's a great way to start the summer and something I look forward to every year!

The day after my beach trip - I flew to Colorado. I actually drove from the beach to the airport without even going home. My parents asked where I'd like to visit them during the summer, and Colorado was my first choice. I think it's my favorite place in the world.
We did a few hikes (no mountain lion sightings) and enjoyed my all-time favorite beer (Vanilla Porter) straight from the brewery at Breckenridge Brewing Company!

Family hiking selfie!

Summer has included regular date nights with my favorite guy, and often our friends, too!
We've spent some time on the Susquehanna River enjoying the beautiful weather!
Dan and I took a quick 24-hour trip to Wisp Ski Resort in Deep Creek Lake, MD for one of those things where you listen to the sales pitch and they pay for your hotel. We're returning to Deep Creek in August for a few days with his daughter and a few of his friends and their kids!
The day after Deep Creek, we hopped back in the car and headed to the northern part of PA, where we toured the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. We spent a few days at a cabin up there in the woods and enjoyed hiking, playing games, splashing in the stream nearby, and just hanging out. Dan's parents then took the granddaughters (all 3 of them) further north to visit Niagra Falls for a few days.

The best thing about this summer is that it has included Dan. We've enjoyed lots of nights hanging out with friends, tons of laughter, and so many smiles! Life is always an adventure with this guy by my side - and I'm loving every minute of it!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Deep Thoughts

A little back story before I get into the deep thoughts. I've been dating someone new for a few months now, and it's going really well! (if you're wondering what happened with the other guy I was dating in the fall - no drama, he's a super nice guy and we are still friends, we are just in 2 different places in our lives and things weren't really going anywhere)

This guy, Dan, is pretty amazing. For the first month, everything was amazing - he is funny and interesting and crazy and not at all what I expected myself to be falling for. But then, about a month into things - his autoimmune condition flares up. He has ulcerative colitis, and was only diagnosed with it about a year and a half ago. This was his first really bad flare of the disease, and landed him in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks. He had lost about 50 pounds in a month! I was the one who drove him to the hospital and checked him in, and the whole time I was praying and taking deep breaths because the last time I was in the hospital here in York was the last time Isaac was in the hospital.

So, here I was again - the hospital girlfriend. It's a routine I know far too well, and while I am pretty good at it - it's not a role I wanted again.  I fell back into being the caregiver version of myself again. It was not a place I wanted to be. The caregiver doesn't care for herself well. She eats crummy food and cuts workouts short and doesn't get enough sleep. The 10 pounds I gained? They were because of her. But I am not her.

I am redeemed.

I can't tell you how many nights I drove home from the hospital and spent the drive talking to God and asking Him why. Why this again? Why do I have to be the caregiver again? When does someone take care of me for a change?

But here's the thing - I was totally prepared to deal with Dan's illness. Being the nutrition nerd that I am, I know a ton of information about the effects nutrition has on autoimmune disease. I always wondered why I found that stuff so fascinating when it's not something I struggle with in my own health.Also, the sickness and the hospitalization and the messy stuff - well, after 2 1/2 years with Isaac - this was not a huge deal for me. Sure, it was unpleasant - but it wasn't unfamiliar. It didn't freak me out. And, I knew that it was temporary. Colitis is not cancer. Colitis is manageable.

Anyway, I've rambled a lot here. Dan is now doing better. He's back to work (and kicking butt at it, by the way), has gained 30 pounds back, and is easing his way back into exercising regularly.

That whole "When does someone take care of me for a change?" thing - well, that was a silly worry. In my last blog, I shared how well he took care of me with my car accident. He's a good one.

It's been amazing to look back at my journey and be able to see so many clear places where God has prepared me for things. It's beautiful to watch Him unveil things piece by piece, and watch the puzzle all come together and start to make a little more sense. I feel like I've spent 5 years wandering the desert, and now I'm entering the Promised Land. And it's a GOOD land!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Car Accident and a Sweet Surprise

Last Friday, I had my first car accident. The car (a black 2007 Honda CR-V EX) looks a lot worse than I ended up - thank goodness! It happened around 5:15pm, as I was leaving the gym. I was traveling in the right hand land of a 2 lane road. The left hand lane is a turn lane and was backed up with traffic. A car traveling in the opposite direction snuck between two of the stopped cars to make a turn - and didn't see me traveling down the right hand lane. I didn't see them until I was running into them and my airbag was deploying in my face.

Thankfully, no one was hurt. I didn't even wake up the next morning with so much as a sore muscle. And, thankfully, my boyfriend works right down the street from where it happened, so he was able to come over and pick me up!

I can't tell you how grateful I am to have had this guy by my side through the aftermath of the accident. I HATE making phone calls and dealing with things like insurance companies. He, however, loves making phone calls and deals with that stuff really well. So while I just kept crying, and getting frustrated, he calmly made arrangements for a rental car for me and got a lot of things take care of.

After they determined my car was a total loss and issued me a check (for $3,000 more than I was expecting!),  the BF and I went car shopping. I did purchase my old CR-V all by myself, so I while I was capable of car shopping alone, I wanted to take him along as a 2nd opinion and because he works in the mortgage business so he knows things about finances and what not.

We test drove the 2015 versions of the Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV-4, and the CR-V. I'd never purchased a brand new car before, but with a decent down payment and great financing offers - it made sense this time.

As I suspected, I ended up with what basically amounts to the 2015 version of my old car. A black, Honda CR-V EX. I was expecting to pick it up on Wednesday, but on Tuesday, my guy came to my house with flowers and said "Do you want to go pick up your car today?" - He surprised me by calling the dealership and arranging to have the car ready a day early for me. {insert collective "AWWW" here}

Naturally, the first thing I did was put my 26.2 magnet on the car!

 I love this car!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What's Next?

Isn't this such a great thought???? One of the trainers in my life, Mindy, shared this on the Facebook page for her gym and I immediately thought "THAT IS SO ME!" I feel like I've been chasing results for a few months, and I need to get back to what works for me -- focusing on health and letting the results come anyway.

Last week, I worked out 3 times and that's it. I did a strength workout on Tuesday and Friday. On Thursday, my friend Steph came for a run -- after 1 mile, we decided to just walk. We had lots of life stuff to talk about and it was easier to power walk and chat.

I'm not gonna lie - it felt great to workout so little last week!! I needed the break, both physically and mentally. I knew it the moment I crossed the finish line at Ocean City.

Yesterday, I did my first run since my half marathon. It was 85, humid, and the pollen count was really high. But I felt pretty good for my easy 3 miles!

I was just re-reading my "Hey Remember Me?" blog from 2 weeks ago and thought I'd update some progress for you! I'm sure you've all been on the edge of your seats waiting for updates from me - okay, maybe that's just my mom. (Hi Mom!)

1. Goal #1: Whole30 Round #2 - I started this on May 5th. I was PERFECT for the first 4.75 days. Then on Friday, I got in my first car accident. I am totally fine and I'll blog about it this week! But, suffice it to say, I needed (and I mean NEEDED) a margarita (or 2) that night!! Actually, I'm not being completely Whole30 anymore but I finally feel like "myself" when it comes to my eating again. "Myself" being the me that I've been for the past 3 years losing weight - making smart choices, eating clean, and just not eating junk. It's been a crazy past few months and I was feeling out of whack with everything - oh and I'll blog about all of that this week too!!

2. Goal #2: Blog Accountability - well, I'm writing this, aren't I? Oh, and I lost 2.4 pounds this week!

So, what's next? I have some races on my schedule that I'm really, really excited about!

Memorial Day 5k (a small local race)
Baltimore 10-miler (running this mostly because I love the course and it has a great premium!)
Double Creek 5k (another local race)
Savage Race
Save the River 10k (at my grandma's house in Northern New York)

I'm looking forward to some shorter races. My next half marathon is not until October in Baltimore - and I have my eyes on the prize for that - so I want to give myself time to do some other types of races this summer.

Coming this week on the blog -- car accident recap and deep thoughts about the past 3 months of my life...and possibly deep thoughts about the future. See you soon! :-)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ocean City Half Marathon Race Recap

Question #1 - Did I crush my goal this weekend? Yes. But also no.

Suffice it to say - Saturday was not my day. The short story is...I felt horrible and my goal time of 1:58 went out the window before mile 1...and I finished at 2:18:03. If you want the long story, keep reading -- or just enjoy the pictures!

The day began bright and early. The 5 girls I was staying with all crammed into a Mazda Tribute with my friend Dawn and her husband. We were staying just a few miles from the start, so it was a short trip! We unloaded, hit the bathroom (and by bathroom, I actually mean squatting behind a building), took some selfies, and waited to start.

My GPS watch, which was fully charged when I left Pennsylvania, beeped "low battery" as soon as I turned it on. It didn't even last 1 mile. So, for the first time ever in a race - I was running with no idea of my time or my pace. I figured I would just stay with the 2:00 pace group and some of my friends, but my body had other plans.

Shortly into the race, I let my friends go and made peace with the fact that it was not my day. I felt dreadful. I needed to use the bathroom, I was sweating, and I just felt physically sick. I watched almost every single person I knew pass me. My BF was down with me for the weekend, and I almost just sat down on the side of the road and called him to come get me. Finally, at about mile 4 - I spotted the port a potties. I swear there was a choir of angels singing.

(this picture was about mile 3 maybe, and I'm feeling AWFUL and trying to point to my friend Heidi so that our cheer section would cheer for her too - I fake smiled.)

After a few minutes in line there, I hopped back into the race and felt like a different person. I focused on enjoying the run. I picked off person by person, eventually passing the 2:20 pace group. The whole time, I was searching for my friend Dawn. I knew that she would be somewhere around 2:15.

At mile 10, I started to feel pain in my leg. I've had a nagging hip/hamstring thing since marathon training. It got really bad about 2 weeks ago and I was nervous about it for this race. I stopped several times for the rest of the race to just stretch out my leg. Also - I hadn't found Dawn yet. 

But, about mile 12.9ish - I rounded a corner, and there was Dawn. She was walking, and I yelled her name. She turned around and was rather surprised to see me - she figured I would've finished about 20 minutes ago. Heck, I thought that too. We ran in the rest of the way together.  

My friends all did awesome!!! For 2 of these girls, it was their first half. They were amazing!

So Saturday was not my day. It was a fairly humbling experience to be walking along watching so many people pass you by, while you're thinking you might not even finish the race. All in all, the weather was perfect, my friends all had awesome races, and I don't have to run 13 miles again until the fall!!

Things I learned from this experience:
1. For the love of Pete - make sure your darn watch is charged.
2. Foam rolling is not optional.
3. Strength training is important. Not only did I feel stronger last year, when I was doing consistent strength work, but my body shape was different too. 
4. You can't out run a bad diet. Seriously - why am I still learning this lesson???
5. Being a "goal crusher" doesn't have anything to do with time. Sure, I wanted to set a new PR Saturday. Instead, I ended up with my 3rd slowest time ever. But, on Saturday - being a goal crusher meant not quitting. It meant being able to re-evaluate my goals on the fly and work to accomplish them mid-race.