Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bumps in the road, thoughts on the seasons we go through.

Perhaps it is like this everywhere, or perhaps we just like to complain a little bit more, but here in Oregon you can never seem to have the right weather.  Everywhere you go people will say “It’s way too hot out there,” or “I just wish it would be warmer.”  “If only this rain would go away and we would have some snow” and then “Please Snow, just go away!” About two days a season people will find the weather just right, and right now is not that time.  With a long warm streak around us and my AC broken you would think I’m one of those people (and some days I am) but mostly I like “strong” weather.  I like my summers warm, my winters cold, my spring wet and my autumn’s crisp and breezy.  I guess I like the promise that each season brings and how unless the summer’s get really hot I don’t truly appreciate a cool autumn day in the same way.  When seasons start to wear out their welcome that’s when I start physically and mentally preparing for the next season to come.
This summer has been much the same for me emotionally as it has been physically.  Some very fun enjoyable days, some very busy days, and many slightly uncomfortable challenging days.  Days where you don’t feel like doing anything, but that doesn’t mean that nothing needs to be done.  Days where you can see big changes ahead, but you can’t do anything to prepare in the mean time.   I have had a lot of ups and downs lately, but I’m determined to look back and grow from all of these situations, even the unpleasant ones.
In a few weeks or a month, or a year it sometimes seems (not really, it should be before October) we will (finally) be moving into a bigger space.  Our family of four plus our business (one that requires the ownership of many large tools) plus hobbies that require much gear, like camping and canoeing, have truly outgrown our 600 square foot trailer and we will be moving into a lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Philomath, OR right next door to a few of our friends.  I can’t wait! And yet leaving the trailer park means packing up (which I hate), and saying goodbye to the close knit community there.  Though I will still be in close relation with many of those people, it does change daily life more than it may seem.  It has been really fun living in the same park as my sister, two brother in laws and a sister in law, as well as many close friends, including Mikaiah’s bestie Elowen.  Over all however, I think this change will benefit our family in a big way and will finally give me a place to host people again.
Aside from the upcoming move I have had a few of life’s “speeding tickets” as I call them, incidents that could have been avoided by being more careful or aware but that happen anyways and we just have to suck it up and pay for them, one way or another, in the end.  The first of these involved my Yukon, a couple of bikes and a bridge and resulted in a patched up bike for me, a new bike for Seth as well as a big whole in our bank account. You do that math.  The second incident involved my daughter Mikaiah, Seth’s work computer and a cup of water and resulted in a dead mac book.  (We are waiting to hear if it can be revived, but even if it can it sounds as though it won’t be cheap.) 
 My tendency in these situations is to beat myself up overthem, or get frustrated with myself, but this is not helpful.  We pick ourselves up, we learn from our mistakes and we move on.  I cannot say for sure that these things will not count against me in other’s eyes in the future (particularly my husband’s)  but I can choose to stop feeling sorry for myself about it and, as my daughter would say “Let it go.”  This takes effort, every day, every time I face another of these situations, but I’m working on it and it’s helping I think.  Every time I think of the grace that the Lord has for me, and how much he paid to free me from myself and my sin, I realize how ungrateful and truly selfish it is to choose to wallow in my own faults.  I choose to see myself as the Lord sees me, a new creation made in his image.
I don’t want to just survive these unpleasant encounters, I want to learn from them and grow, and just as it is when you have three weeks of 90 degree weather, I want to use them to help me really appreciate the times ahead.  
So whether you, like me, live somewhere with seasons like the Pacific Northwest, or whether you live somewhere like San Diego where the difference between summer and winter is about 5 degrees (just kidding – kind of) I hope that you are able to appreciate the season of life you’re in right now and easy or hard let it prepare you for the time to come.

Just a note:  If you ever have any questions for me or topics you’d like me to write about in a blog, let me know in a comment or email them to me at I’m always open to suggestions and appreciate new ideas to write about.  Otherwise I will continue to write about whatever whim comes my way. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Regaining the mind of an athlete

     Growing up I was a classic middle of the road kind of kid in pretty much everything.  In school I did well, but not amazing.  In sports I was never the best,  but not (usually) the worst either.  I lacked the dedication of a perfectionist and preferred to "just have fun" rather than really pushing myself.  Some of that is great, though I wish I had pushed myself just a bit more.  I loved to play soccer, baseball,  softball and swimming as well as camping, canoeing, and various other outdoor activities.  I just enjoyed being active and hanging out with friends.  I had always been strong, even as a toddler, it just came naturally to me. (Look at my children if you don't know what I'm talking about - they get their build from me!  Grace and coordination was a different thing (which probably proves why my stint in ballet only lasted 6 months) but I loved it all anyway.  Never too competitive as a child, I just loved staying active. 
      As I got older this trend continued though I eventually had to limit my sports down to swimming since it was all year and five times a week (though I usually only actually went 2-3 times.)   I remember being in middle school when I first started really being aware of my bigger body type and being a little self-concious of it, but at the end of the day I was still stronger than most of the boys around me and stayed pretty busy, so it didn't really bother me (I was more concerned with raging acne anyway.)  I just considered myself athletic, and I was okay with that.
       A strange thing comes with age however and your body begins to change.  Along with this, responsibilities change as well.  I first noticed the beginning of a big change when I was in college, taking 12 - 18 credits and working three part time jobs (one of which was a pizza job with free food) staying active and eating right was a lot harder than it had been.  The pounds slowly piled on and the muscle began to slip off.  After college I spent a year over seas and made a strong effort to get back to that healthy spot, and for the most part I succeeded.  It felt great.  When I got back to the U.S. I moved to Bend  and started working as a nanny while sharing a duplex with my wonderful roommate Alycia for two years, and then moved to a townhouse with yet another awesome roommate, Beth. Over these hree years I continued to have a very active lifestyle rock climbing, playing lots of ultimate frisbee, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing among other activies.  Then in 2009 my life changed once again and I was blessed to marry my best friend and move back to the valley.  Like many women that get married, my body suffered while the rest of my world thrived.  The price of working full time, plus keeping a home, and sharing my time and energy had just begun to show...and then came baby number one, and after a couple of years, baby number two with three miscarriages in between, and one since, it all took a huge toll on my body.  Suddenly I found myself looking around wondering what happened and how I had gained 40 pounds in just 5 short years.  To say that I had stopped trying would be in accurate, I just simply couldn't keep a consistent enough routine to lose the baby weight (and more) that I had gained.   After working out and burning out time and time again I began to feel pretty depressed about it, and although I still haven't lost that much of it (though I'm beginning to) I am choosing not to give up and to keep working to be the healthy person I know I can be.  I'm was still active, but until this last year I really felt like the athlete part in me had slowly slipped away.  What a sad feeling, to lose the identity you had always had of yourself.  But now I have a new identity, as a mother, a wife, who still did many adventurous things and that was okay, but I still wanted that athlete back.    I decided to give myself the goal of a triathalon relay.  I would love to do a whole triathalon, but with my bad knees it seemed like a bad idea.  As I began to train however, something changed in me.  I have continued to swim laps off and on for years, but somehow having this goal changed something in my mind and helped me get up and go to the pool, girls in tow and all (as my sister faithfully watched them for me as I swam laps, what an encourager she has been to me!)   I noticed this slow shift in my thinking affect not just my body but my attitude over all. 
     Last weekend I spent a wonderful, encouraging day competing in my first (of many I hope) triathalons.  Along with two dear friends who helped me out and amazingly filled in with just a weeks notice as my other team mates had to drop out for various reasons.  Wow, to just get up and one week later participate in this is amazing!   Thank you Dawna and Kim!  I really have to give special props to Kim, who only recently even started running and then agreed to take this on, she really did an amazing job - bronchitis and all! (Somehow both Dawna and Kim happend to have brochitis and competed anyway!)   I had challenged myself to swim the 9/10 of a mile in 40 minutes and I did it in 36.25.  Pretty happy about that.
    Our team took second place in our division, and though it turns out there were only two teams, I still think we did awesome.  Most of the teams were composed of runners with friends recruited to swim and ride, but we did awesome anyway.  What a lot of pressure for Kim to be running with so many seasoned runners when she herself had just begun, but she handled it like a pro.  So proud of our whole team.
     All this to say that I want to challenge myself to continue in this renewed mindset I have found.  I can't wait to take on even more challenges and not only get healthier for myself, but be an example for these beautiful young ladies I am training up.   It doesn't come easily for me to share all of this, it's actually rather embaressing for me, but I realize that whether in the area of weight, or self esteem many of us struggle with these same things and it's nice to know you're not alone.  If you've ever wanted to do a triathalon but don't know where to start a triathalon relay is a great place to begin, and the Rolf Prima Tri in Cottage Grove is an excellent one.  I'm hoping to return next year and bring a few more teams with me.  The more people we have training the more encouraging it can be.