Part Heart, Part Inspiration, Part Perspiration…

One of my friends was telling me last night that she missed my blog. That I made her think about things even if there were no comments on that blog, that people still read. So, I got to thinking about how I needed inspired. And what better way than to talk about some of the people that inspire me-in no particular order. These are the people that make me want to do better, without making me feel inferior. Inspiration, not competition, is what we all could use a little more of. 

Molly-My amazing fish of a friend heads off next Thursday to swim the English Channel. I’ve never known someone with such laser focus and determination on a single goal. She was reading a book about the first female to swim the channel when she and I took a trip to Chicago a year and a half ago, and I’d like to think that’s when the idea struck. She’s been swimming, and swimming, and swimming ever since. In frigid temps, for long times, and makes it seem fun. She feeds on sad looking energy drinks and looks forward to them. This woman HAS IT. I know without a doubt that she’s going to make it across, and I wish I could be in France to greet her. 

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Kristina-Kris is the runner who will Not. Give. Up. She has gone out on two hundred mile run races, and the second attempt landed her in the hospital for a few days with some serious shin splints, rhabdo, kidney issues, and a few more serious issues. She was out running again 2 weeks later. She’s of the belief that running heals the spirit, and I agree. On a tough run for me, whether it’s 5, 10, 15 miles, I think of how she can convince her body to do things it doesn’t always want to do, and I keep running. 

Jen-Jen’s been under a completely different kind of challenge lately: motherhood. She went through fertility struggles, miscarriages, and finally is experiencing motherhood for the first time ever. It’s amazing to watch, and fantastic to know I”m going to be the crazy aunt spoiling her son rotten. At the same time, Jen is my partner in crime: We have crazy photos next to the warrior dash sign, a giant cookie delivery truck, and at a zombie 5k to prove that. We met a bit over 2 years ago, but it feels like forever. Friends smushed us together on a trip to a triathlon in Kansas that got cancelled due to tornadoes. We made our own triathlon that weekend at our local gym and traveled on a whim to her first triathlon race a few months later on a whim. That road trip solidified our friendship, and I am always so proud, amazed, and yet in a strange way, equal to her whenever we’re together. 

My Mom-Mom was my gateway into running. I had been noticing that all the super fit girls at my gym seemed to run on the treadmill when she suggested we sign up for a 10k in lovely Boulder, CO-she lived in CO at the time. Mom’s been a runner as long as I can remember. Anyway, we were excited and terrified at the same time-it was our first race. Years have passed, and we’re both still running. She had cut back considerably lately due to some foot issues, but she asked me what my weight loss secret was (I’ve lost almost 15 pounds this year) and I told her honestly-I started running 35 miles a week and the pounds just fell off.  I’ve been along on her journey back to running this year. Between new best times, pus filled toes, and incredibly hot and sweaty miles, we’ve been getting closer again and it’s all thanks to running. 

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, Jeff left me alone for the evening. I have a glass of wine, a homemade blondie, and some delicious reality TV fluff calling my name. Gotta gear up for Monday tomorrow-thank goodness it’s a short week! 

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Baby Steps

In so many aspects of life, it’s the little things that mean a lot. Little gestures from your spouse make the most impact. A kind word can go a long way. A little treat at the office makes the work day that much easier to get through. So it goes with your favorite things in the world. A little change makes a big difference. 

Enjoy the little things in life #Quotes

What the hell am I talking about? As usual, running. Over the summer, I’ve kind of changed my routine up to accomodate the heat. As a result, I’m running about 5 less miles a week. No big deal, and I’m biking more to make up for it. This week, I had to swap around some things so that I’d take a long run Saturday, which is not my favorite thing to do but couldn’t be helped. Anywho, generally in the Summer I’ve got one day that needs a longer mid-week run so I split the miles over a lunch and after work run. My favorite path to run over my lunch hour just has NO shade, and there’s no way I could go 8 miles over lunch in those conditions. So on my lunch run yesterday I made it 4.5 miles, and then after work I went a bit further than planned-5.5. Doing so made today a bit easier, since I’ll only have to do lunch run and no evening run. So that’s a little thing. The bigger little thing for me? I decided at around the 4 mile mark that it was OK to pop in to my favorite potty stop on my home route and cool off, catch my breath, and get a cold drink of water to finish my run. Deciding that it was OK to take a 3 minute break is big for me. When I exercise, I seem to get this mentality that taking a break is basically giving up. On my first 7 mile run this Spring, I was heartbroken when I got so dehydrated that my lips bled and I had to stop at that same store to grab a drink. Now? Not that big of a deal. The distance is what’s most important. I think I’ve realized that taking a break won’t eliminate the fact that I’ve run x miles, it won’t mean my body gets less out of the workout, and sometimes it’s the only thing you can do to finish your goal distance. 

I learned another life lesson yesterday-Men & Women have vast differences of opinion on what it means to clean a room. So, Jeff was off yesterday, and I asked him to clean the bathroom and vacuum for me. I got a text later that said “floors vacuumed, toilet clean”. I figured certainly that didn’t mean he’d ONLY done the toilet. But, when i got home, that’s exactly what happened! I asked if he’d cleaned the tub, and he said “no. Was I supposed to do that?” I was flabbergasted! “Um, well, the tub is IN the bathroom, which is what I asked you to clean, so yeah.” No big deal, I finished the job, but it got me to thinking. Men see the bathroom as a throne and little else. I see the bathroom as my relaxation sanctuary, where I take a bath, dry my hair, do my makeup, whatever. So Jeff cleans the thing he sees of most importance in the bathroom and so do I. Yay, teamwork? But seriously, just means that I may have to spell out what I mean when I ask him to clean something for me. As long as we agree that’s not being a nag, or condescending, I think the end result will mean much less stress on everyone. And, hey, I have a husband who will clean the toilet. That’s a good thing no matter HOW you look at it. 

Men? I'm pretty sure I would be a lot more excited about cleaning too!

What makes a father?

On Fathers day, my bike ride found me wondering what makes a father. I thought for a while, and my concise definition is this: someone who teaches or leads by example with no expectation of reward, recognition, or even reciprocation. I’ve been so lucky to have a veritable parade of “fathers” in my life, and I use their gifts to me every single day.

My biological father, Mike. I am still learning bits and pieces of him, as he passed on at a very early age, when he was 27 and I was 5. I do know we share a few traits: a desire to do the right thing for those we love, a love of a good prank or joke, and I know I see him every time I look at my smile in the mirror.

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My uncle Kevin-as a young girl, he was an easygoing, calm influence who made me feel safe. As an adult, he’s been here to help no matter what I need-my mailbox repaired, to caulk cracks in my cement (while making tons of caulk jokes, of course), and to assist in the removal of any unsavory wildlife who dares choose to die on my property. And he ensures that any time I have need for steaks, pork belly, or the answer to any meat-related question, he’s got the answer.

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My Grandpa Leland-Grandpa was the single biggest giver of unconditional love I’ve ever had in my life. He taught me patience, how to tell a good story, that sometimes a cuss word is needed for emphasis, that homemade ice cream is the greatest treat ever, and that the best things in life are the simple ones. Grandpa loved Purple, his kids and grandkids, and America.

 

Getting a horsey ride, 70's style.

Getting a horsey ride, 70’s style.

My Stepdad, Joe-Joe taught me many things about myself and what I did and didn’t want to become. He’s evident in my work ethic, the way I drive (he taught me!) and had such a creative mind. I try to pass as much of him on to my little brother as I can, though the best things about Joe were often evident when he was with Jesse. And anytime I think of his penchant for woodworking in his garage while watching Lifetime movies, I can’t help but smile. Women in peril inspire some damn fine wall hangings.

My stepdad and little brother in Colorado before they moved there.

My stepdad and little brother in Colorado before they moved there.

Uncle Kurt-Kurt has only been in my life less than 10 years, but nobody I’ve known has given me more confidence than he has. He taught me that a good meal is more than the sum of its parts-it’s the ingredients, the experience, the time spent together talking about your life while sauces simmer and flavors meld. He also taught me not to take myself so seriously, and has never hesitated to call me out for settling for any less than the very best, reminding me that’s what I deserve.

The man who gave me away at my wedding, Uncle Kurt

The man who gave me away at my wedding, Uncle Kurt

Pops-Bodie came into my life when I was in my 30’s, and didn’t think I had huge need for a new family at such an age. He’s taught me plenty about acceptance, about family, and riding in a convertible with the breeze in your hair. I’m lucky to have gained such an influence at a time in my life when I was starting to doubt my own value.

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Those are the biggest male influences in my life, but I have to acknowledge that for almost all of my life, Mom did double duty. Nobody else knows my jokes, experiences, triggers, likes and dislikes more than she does. Mom taught me how to make the best of any situation, that sometimes the best answer is just to keep moving, and taught me my love of running. Any time “something” happens-good, bad, or indifferent-she’s the first person I want to tell.

In addition to all these familial influences, I have so many examples that show that it’s not just blood that makes a family.

Ben & Syd-for teaching me what makes a framily, and that just because two people grow apart (and back together again) doesn’t mean you have to abandon friends you made along the way.

Paul-Paul has patiently explained the nuances of long distance running to me, as well as pretty much any off the wall question I don’t know the answer to. Paul is a great example of the most supportive, laid back person I know. Molly and Audrey are lucky to have him.

Troy-Troy has been a great “brother” to Jeff, and as for me-he’s my techy go-to, with only minor ribbing for being in tech support myself but not knowing the answers to my questions.

Robert-not really fatherly, but for never taking (or posting) a bad photo of me. Thanks, buddy.

Uncle Dennis-you’ve taught me about my own limits, my own patience, and a billion other random facts I never knew I never knew.

Matt & Phil-My stepbrothers have been pretty gracious in accepting me and my brother into their lives. Matt has been an amazing example about how to take a joke from a person you barely know, and his sense of humor sneaks up on you-kind of like my own. Phil’s patience and love for his daughter is evident, and something I can tell he learned from his dad.

Joe-Angela and Allison’s dad has been so amazing and strong in the face of big obstacles. He has accepted pretty much every friend the girls have presented him as if we were his own kids, and I’m very glad to have him and Patty in our lives.

Brian-Brian was like my big brother growing up. He taught me about loyalty, both in your work world and your family world. He was the best big brother I ever met, both “to me” and to his own brother, who I had the privilege of babysitting on occasion when Brian finally needed some high school guy time. I’m super proud of who he’s become as an adult, and though I haven’t seen him in 20 years(ish), I know if I ever needed something he was able to give, it would be here in the blink of an eye.

There’s so many more influences I know I’m missing.There are so many amazing fathers I know out there, and I’m pretty confident that with your influences, the next generation is going to be just fine. But on a father’s day, my thoughts also go to Jeff. He was brave enough to make a choice with me that may have limited one aspect of his life, but will inevitably enrich other areas. In a way, I feel like becoming a parent is such a brave choice. You are responsible for a tiny human. All their traits, biological and personality, come from you. Things you didn’t even know you did make a huge impact. But in another sense, it’s brave to be a couple and not have kids too. When you have kids, it seems like parents get to unite in certain things. Parenthood is a team sport at it’s best. But those of us without kids, we’re exposed. My strange routines are always going to be there, uninterrupted, for the world to see. As are Jeff’s. Our flaws are laid bare without the distraction of a child to raise. His nerd is going to be showing all the time for me, and my runner feet and obsessions are glaringly obvious. But we love each other BECAUSE of our eccentricities. And ultimately, that pipe dream of ours to move overseas someday? Without college funds or diapers to pay for, it could totally be a reality someday. And that keeps me going when self doubt creeps in.

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Happy Fathers Day to all the dads I know. If you’re reading this, I think you’re a pretty bitchin dad. My facebook feed shows me every day dozens of examples of what a father should be. And I’m proud of all of you.

The Disappearing Blogger

What the hell, Laura? Where have you been? What have you been doing? Well, I promise I’m still out here, running about 6 miles a day and happily drinking wine and eating my snack plate each night in the bathtub. But I’ve been, lets say contemplative lately. When each blog I made was some rote theme, like “Mileage Monday”, “What I ate Wednesday”, or “5 Things Friday (aka my favorite way to convey random details)”, what was my goal? I started blogging wanting to reach a broader audience, to get perspective from those not in my zip code or friend base. But the reality as I’ve grown and stretched in the blogosphere is that although I’m a sarcastic, sometimes cranky, pretty stubborn lady, fundamentally I’m no different than thousands of other bloggers out there. We work out, love our pets and husbands, try to eat healthily while wishing we could chow down on pizza every night, and go to jobs every morning that may or may not fulfill us. Could I work super hard and stand out? Sure. Is blogging that big of an interest in me to warrant a larger commitment? Probably not. So I’m taking a step back. I’m re-evaluating why I write. I’m recognizing that for the most part, aside from a few core supporters who I love dearly (Mike, Scott, Jess, etc I’m talking to you guys!), my “followers” are mostly facebook recruits who are friends, travelers, runners, foodies, and everything in between. 

When I was with one of my ex boyfriends, my best friends grew to hate him, and I asked why. They told me that it was because all they heard from me about him was negative. And honestly, that’s easier. I was in my 20’s, and at that age it’s much easier to be deprecating, to acccentuate the negative and diminish the positive. Commiserating is what brings us together, happiness in your twenties can be, frankly, a turn-off to your friends. We’re all older now, and it’s much easier to celebrate the successes with the core group of friends who have stuck by you. There’s less competition. We’re not all racing to get married, to have babies, to get promoted and buy big houses. We’re more like-minded individuals celebrating each other’s successes and helping analyze the failures to learn from them instead of commiserating about how much that sucked. I’ve always written with a self-deprecating tone, but for the most part, I’m a pretty happy girl. Maybe it’s time to point out the positive, to encourage that in everyone I know, and to truly mourn the failures instead of trying to compare them to see what “sucked” worse. It’s been a gradual turn, but one I feel proud of and need to point out. I want to help people see the awesome in the everyday, and hopefully I can find the right themes and tones here to keep that up and do so-with a healthy dose of my usual snark. Can’t be ALL sunshine and rainbows, right? But, on the whole, I’m trying to be less like this bitchy cat. Why can’t she just enjoy that human-canine bond?